Governor Janet Mills issued a warm welcome to new Americans from over 30 countries who took their oaths of citizenship Friday at a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Naturalization Ceremony at King Middle School in Portland. According to school officials, almost sixty percent of King Middle School students are children of color and speak a language other than English at home. Alain Igerneza, who sang the National Anthem at Governor Mills’ Inauguration, is also a King Middle School alum.
The Governor’s remarks as prepared are below:
My fellow Americans -
Writer Frederick Robertson once said "Home is the one place in all this world where hearts are sure of each other. It is the place of confidence. It is the place where we tear off that mask of guarded and suspicious coldness which the world forces us to wear in self-defense, and where we pour out the unreserved communications of full and confiding hearts….”
From the tree streets of Lewiston to the rolling fields of the County, from the Bold Coast to the Height of Land, from Cross Rock in Allagash to Portland’s Promenades, you have chosen to begin your new life as Americans in a state that is ready to welcome you home.
Thank you for making that choice. Our state and country need you.
Today, you also chose to renounce your former citizenship in other countries. While that may have been an easy choice for some of you, I know that for others, it may have been a painful one.
While as Americans, we are now bound by our shared love, loyalty, and allegiance to the United States, we also know you are not giving up your own history or culture.
Our diverse faiths, languages, literature, music, cuisine and celebrations are a virtue-they are what make our country strong. I hope you will continue to celebrate your past as you embark on your future.
America was built by the courage of the many who came before us, who survived with little more than hope in their hearts and dreams in their souls of a brighter future and safer shores for their children, and their children’s children.
And out of many, we became one.
Your new home is far from perfect. Today, during a time in American life where it is easy to feel fractured and divided, remember that the story of America has always been one of progress, of freedom, of justice, and of equality.
While we continue to strive for that more perfect union that our forefathers envisioned more than 200 years ago, we too often abandon one another.
Too many of our children go hungry. Too many of our citizens take for granted, and do not exercise, the precious right to vote you have all worked so hard for. We still struggle to establish equality for all across racial and economic lines.
Indeed, we continue, as Martin Luther King said, “to bend the arch of the moral universe towards justice.” It is a high standard, and it is one that – as individuals, as a state, and as a nation -- we do not always meet, but it is our national calling.
President Harry Truman once said “America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand.”
As well-informed citizens, it is also now incumbent upon you to contribute to the job at hand.
I hope that you will measure your own success as American citizens not in how much wealth or property you own, but by how you honor your commitment to this country and to one another.
You are all important members of Maine’s family. And today, our country grows stronger because of you.
To all of you I say, congratulations and welcome home.