At the Vermont Statehouse Monday, Judge William Sessions welcomed more than 60 new U.S. citizens in a naturalization ceremony in the House chamber. The date of the ceremony was not a coincidence; Sessions has held naturalization ceremonies on or close to September 11 for the past 15 years.
Before administering the oath of office to the new citizens, Sessions told them the tradition began a year after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
“In the wake of those attacks, we as Americans all engaged in a public dialogue about who we were and who we should be as a country. And together with U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, I set up a naturalization ceremony at the statehouse here in Montpelier on the first anniversary of that attack,” Sessions said. “We’ve had ceremonies at this statehouse on or near this date every year since then.”
Sessions said the message sent by the ceremonies is a simple one.
“They remind us that we are a nation of many different races, of different cultures, and of different religions; that we are all immigrants to this country; that our strength as a people lies in our diversity; and that our welcome to the world should be forever preserved,” Sessions said.
The people who became citizens listened to Sessions from the same seats as Vermont’s elected state representatives, and he reminded them that one of their new rights – and duties – as U.S. citizens is to take part in the electoral process as a voter, if not as a candidate.
According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the 67 new citizens ranged in age from 21 to 85 and came from a total of 28 nations – some as near as Canada and Jamaica, and others as far as China, Somalia and Nepal.