Under a cloudless sky Congressman Tom Perriello presided over the 47th Independence Day Celebration and Naturalization Ceremony today at Monticello. Sixty-six people from 35 countries took the Oath of Citizenship, becoming Americans in front of roughly 1,800 family members, friends, and well wishers.
Perriello, who was born here in Albemarle County, told the crowd that it was “an ineffable thrill” to be present at the ceremony, a ceremony celebrating “earned citizenship” as opposed to citizenship granted by birth. “You’re joining this country of ours at a moment of great difficulty,” Perriello told the applicants, calling the United States “an imperfect but ever perfecting idea of liberty.” It is precisely these new Americans, he said, none of whom have taken “the path of least resistance” to get here, who are needed to help our country on its journey towards that perfection.
It is the actual speaking of the Oath of Citizenship which transforms one into an American Citizen, and after that magic was performed, several of the newly anointed Americans stepped up to the microphone to say a few words. Five-year-old Eleanor Hilgart, already a citizen by virtue of her adoption from China, but receiving today her certificate of citizenship, was the last to speak, helped to the platform by her father. Standing in the bright sun, she hesitated for a moment before perfectly summing up the day. “I love this country,” she said. “It’s a perfect place to be.”