• 194 People take the Oath of Citizenship in Pacific Grove

    This is an important day in your lives and a day to celebrate.”

    So began council member Casey Lucius’s speech to 194 people who chose to become Americans and were sworn in on September 9, 2014.

    Dr. Lucius was asked to address the group of people from 26 nations who gathered at Asilomar Conference Grounds, a ceremony which has historically taken place in Campbell. She said she was honored to have been asked. She spoke of service/contributions, opportunity, and action being the pillars of citizenship and gave examples from her own life of how these pillars are important to the lives of every citizen, natural or naturalized.

    Dr. Casey Lucius, keynote speaker

    Dr. Casey Lucius, keynote speaker

    In 1915, President Wilson told a new group of new American citizens ‘you have vowed loyalty to no one, only to a great ideal, to a great body of principles, to a great hope of the human race,’” said Dr. Lucius.

    Sharon Rummery, Public Affairs Officer for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said that “we enjoyed the beauty of Asilomar and their hospitality,” and that Asilomar is a convenient location for the new citizens and their friends and families. In recent years, some 74 percent of all persons who became naturalized citizens came from just 10 states, with California representing the largest number. Most new citizens were originally from just five countries: Mexico, Philippines, India, Dominican Republic and China.

    This week, 148 of the 194 new citizens were originally from Mexico. The next highest numbers were four each from China, El Salvador, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

    To date in 2014, nationwide, nearly 415,000 people have become naturalized citizens.

    Reminding her listeners that she had merely been born here and had not worked as hard as these new citizens to become an American, Dr. Lucius concluded her address by saying, “I am in awe of each of you. You represent future possibilities for our nation and you provide the model for each new citizen who comes after you.”

    Casey Lucius’s address follows:
    Casey Lucius Sept 9, 2014

    First, I want to congratulate all of you. This is an important day in your lives and a day to celebrate. I am honored to be part of your special day.

    I want to share with you what I’ve learned about being a U.S. citizen. I am an American by birth and I studied civics in high school, and I studied political science in college, but what I have learned about citizenship over the years came not from reading books, but primarily came from observing the acts of other citizens – one in particular – who I want to tell you about.

    This is a personal story that led me to draw some specific conclusions about what it means to be a member of this Great Society. I grew up in Ohio. My mom was a secretary and my step-father worked in a factory. We lived paycheck to paycheck and there was never extra money left over at the end of the week or end of the month.

    When it was time for me to graduate from high school and go to college, my mom told me that I couldn’t to go – because she couldn’t afford it. I was devastated. I remember just sitting in the kitchen and putting my head on the table and just crying – thinking that my future dreams had just been ruined. Well, to make a long story short, my step-dad, Ernie, offered to cash in his retirement to help pay for my college. In that moment, he changed the course of my life, he believed in me and he gave me an opportunity that I otherwise wouldn’t have. And this is the basis of the American Dream – the belief that you can do what you set out to do, and you will have opportunities to succeed.

    Sometimes, however, the realization of the American Dream happens over generations. Sometimes others make sacrifices to have their children or grandchildren reap the benefits. This was certainly the case with Ernie.

    When I think about what he did – 21 years ago – I realize that Ernie taught me a lot about what it means to be good person, to be a productive member of a group, and to contribute to a bigger plan. He didn’t teach me citizenship, he showed me citizenship. From Ernie, I learned that as good citizens we do indeed have a duty to help others – to step up and make a difference in other’s lives. Sometimes this will mean supporting the education system in your community, it may mean helping someone get a job, providing shelter, or generally giving someone the tools they need to succeed. This is one of the pillars of citizenship as I see it. We can call it “Service” or “Contributions” but the bottom line is, if you can help someone else, then you should. You should step up to the plate and make a difference in their lives. This is not just meaningful for that individual, but it is meaningful for the people who they will go on to impact, and the future that they will go on to create.

    Your contributions may come in many forms, and many of you have already contributed and served this country. Foreign born citizens have long made unique contributions to our society. The modern radio, the alarm clock, the induction motor, Levi’s jeans, inhibitors used to treat AIDS patients, the telephone, the metal detector, and many more discoveries have been led by immigrants, and just think of all the people who have been helped through these contributions.

    A second lesson from Ernie and another pillar of American citizenship is opportunity. Ernie gave me an opportunity to change the course of my future. And I did not squander that opportunity, I did go to college and get a Bachelor’s Degree, but I also went on to get a Master’s Degree, and a PhD. We must not only seek opportunities, but we must seize opportunities. I would encourage each of you to think about why you came to this country and why you wanted to become American citizens, and keep that vision, keep that ideal in your mind. There are no guarantees of success or riches, but there are opportunities to achieve greatness. In 1915, President Wilson told a new group of new American citizens “you have vowed loyalty to no one, only to a great ideal, to a great body of principles, to a great hope of the human race.” This great ideal and great body of principles that he spoke of is the idea that anything is possible in this country. American citizens are afforded opportunities that may never be available to other people around the world – and we must never squander those opportunities.

    Another pillar of citizenship (and lesson from Ernie) is action. I tend to believe there are three types of people in this world – those who complain about problems, those who seek to solve problems, and those who are just indifferent. Ernie helped me solve a problem – and he gave me the tools to pass on that gift. Now, I am teaching these skills to my students, to my son, and practicing them in local government. I urge you to seek to be a problem solver. Take action to improve your neighborhoods, speak out against injustices, and become involved in causes you feel passionate about. No one makes a difference without becoming involved. Life is short and you cannot wait for someone else to take action – and you cannot wait until all the circumstances are perfect. You’ve taken action and made decisions to get to where you are today – to become a citizen, to seize opportunity, to create a new future – and this is only the beginning.

    Many of you have already lived in the United States for some time, you may have already experienced great success, and some of you may have also experienced great sacrifice. I did nothing special to earn my citizenship, I was simply lucky enough to be born here. But I do work hard every day to be worthy to be called an American – to be worthy of what our Flag and our Constitution stand for. The way we each do this is different. We each have our own calling, and our own path in life. When I think about Ernie – he worked in a factory – he did not invent anything, he made no contribution to medical advancements, he never ran for office or served in the military – he just worked hard every day and he was a man of good character. He sacrificed for his family, he paid the bills, and he stepped up when someone needed him. In my mind, that’s the most we can ask of any citizen – to serve others for the betterment of our community and our nation. This was not in the oath that you took today, but I believe it is a fundamental principle of good citizenship.

    I am in awe of each of you. You represent future possibilities for our nation and you provide the model for each new citizen who comes after you. Congratulations and thank you.

    Seaside-Monterey-20140909-00578 Seaside-Monterey-20140909-00580 Seaside-Monterey-20140909-00581 Seaside-Monterey-20140909-00584

    posted to Cedar Street Times on September 10, 2014

    Topics: Features, Front PG News

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