Oath of Allegiance taken in SlaytonSLAYTON — Sixteen men and women raised their right hands on Thursday and swore to support and defend the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America. On this same date 222 years ago, 39 men, including George Washington, Alexander Hamilton and Benjamin Franklin took pen in hand and signed the U.S. Constitution.
By: Justine Wettschreck, Worthington Daily Globe
SLAYTON — Sixteen men and women raised their right hands on Thursday and swore to support and defend the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America. On this same date 222 years ago, 39 men, including George Washington, Alexander Hamilton and Benjamin Franklin took pen in hand and signed the U.S. Constitution.
“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
At the Murray County courthouse, Judge David Christensen swore in 16 new citizens, asking and receiving their pledge of allegiance to the U.S.A.
Born in Ethiopia, Africa, Poland, Vietnam, Mexico and other countries, people who had applied themselves and studied received certificates of citizenship and a U.S flag.
Years ago, Christensen said, Theodore Roosevelt had given a speech in France, talking about the qualifications of good citizens. The U.S. was looking for men and women of “sound mind, sound body and sound character.”
“Sound body is perhaps the easiest of these…,” Christensen said. “Sound mind requires we take the opportunity to educate ourselves and become better citizens.”
Sound character, he stated, was likely the most important, imploring the new citizens and others in the audience to be tolerant of opinions different than their own and to contribute where they could.
“Take a local part in the teaching and uplifting of mankind,” he instructed.
President Barack Obama echoed the sentiment in a video-taped message to the new citizens.
“With the privilege of citizenship comes a great responsibility,” Obama stated. “Use your talents to contribute to our nation and help write the next great chapter in American history.
“You have travelled a long path to get here,” he added. “It is an honor and privilege to call you all fellow Americans. This is now officially your country.”
Marak Nojek, one of the 16 sworn in as a citizen, said he has been in the U.S. for more than 13 years, having been sent from his native country of Poland by his church. He is currently a chaplain at a catholic church in Jackson. It took more than seven years to get a green card, he said, and then he was required to wait five years before he could apply for citizenship.
“I wanted to be able to participate,” he said. “I wanted to be able to vote.”
Dorothy Orde, who teaches citizen classes for District 518 Community Education, has been working with students for eight years.
“I have helped over 100 people become citizens,” she said. “It is very rewarding.”
Some of the students, she explained, take classes for two years or more, learning how to read and write in English and prepare for the test they must pass.
“Some of them have had no education in their own country,” she stated. “They take the classes over and over for years.”
Constitution Day, declared in 2004, was more than 200 years in the making. In 1787, the forefathers of the United States signed their names to a document that made them heretics and would forever change history.
The last line of the Constitution states, “Done in convention be the unanimous consent of the states present the seventeenth day of September in the year of our Lord 1787 and of the independence of the United States…, we have hereunto subscribed our names.”