The candidates for citizenship listened to remarks from Bailey, Quinn Gonell, history teacher at Lawrence High School and president of Greater Lawrence Young Professionals Network, and Susan Grabski, director of the Lawrence History Center.
Grabski gave a brief history of Lawrence from the first wave of Irish immigrants, Eastern Europeans to Hispanic and Southeast Asians.
“Lawrence has always been and continues to be an immigrant city,” Grabski said. “By being here, you add to the fabric that makes the U.S. of America.”
Many of the speakers encouraged the new citizens not to give up their culture, heritage, traditions or food.
Lawrence Field Office Director Luis Chaves came to the United States from Portugal at age 10 and recalled his teacher talking about America as a melting pot. He thought it was a cooking pot that had been left on the stove unattended and it melted. His teacher then explained that America is made up of people who bring their different cultures and make it part of the mainstream.
“You bring the newest ingredients that makes this soup taste better because we come from different countries, ethnic groups and religions,” Chaves said.
They even heard an audio message from President Barack Obama, who told them, “It’s an honor and a privilege to call you a fellow citizen of the United States of America. This is now officially your country. Your home to protect, to defend, and to serve through active and engaged citizenship.”
During the taped message Obama told them with citizenship comes “great responsibilities.”
“Always remember that in America no dream is impossible. Like the millions of immigrants who have come before you, you have the opportunity to enrich this country through your contributions to civic society, business, culture, and your community. You can help write the next great chapter in our American story,” Obama said in his taped message.