As of late this afternoon, John and Tyler have biked 798.6 miles. John and Kipp have walked 152.43.
Yesterday we participated in a wonderful Naturalization Ceremony at Picacho Middle School in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Thirty one people, ranging in age from 21 to 71, were sworn in as new American citizens, including two brothers, one of whom had attended Picacho Middle School. The Ceremony began with the Clerk of the Court calling to order the space at the school that usually functions as a gymnasium. The citizens-to-be, more than 300 students, school staff and guests were now witnessing a life-changing Ceremony. The presiding judge, The Honorable Lourdes A. Martinez, United States Magistrate Judge, was introduced. She, in turn, introduced the Court Staff, staff of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service, school staff and guests, including those of us from Citizenship Counts. Her remarks spoke of the importance of the day and the significance of becoming a citizen of the United States as well as the rights and responsibilities we each have as citizens.
After the Oath of Allegiance was administered, Judge Martinez introduced our Journeyer John Eckstein, who was the day’s Keynote Speaker. He addressed the new citizens and students, telling them that each has a journey to take and that becoming citizens is the beginning of a new journey. He told the stories of three immigrants to the United States – his father, Albert Eckstein, Gerda Weissman Klein and Raul Castro, who was the first Mexican American Governor of Arizona. Each was an immigrant who overcame hardship and became naturalized citizens who made significant contributions to their communities and our country. John shared with the citizens and students his belief that one of the most important reasons for America’s exceptionalism is that we are a nation of immigrants. He stated that our country can remain exceptional only if our citizens do their part, not just for themselves and their families but for our communities and country. We have responsibilities, among which are to be educated, to work hard, to help our neighbors and communities, to serve our country when called, to be informed about local, state and national issues and to vote for our leaders.
We are very grateful to Mary Sanchez, U.S. history teacher at Picacho Middle School and Dorothy Flores, the school’s Principal, for collaborating with Citizenship by using our curriculum and for so beautifully hosting the Ceremony. We are also very grateful to the United States Citizen and Immigration Services for their willingness to hold the Naturalization Ceremony in Picacho Middle School so that the students could have this remarkable learning experience. And to Judge Lourdes A. Martinez, our deep appreciation for the dignity and joy she brought to this life-changing day for the new citizens and this important learning experience for the students. The 300 students who attended the ceremony showed respect and appreciation for the experience they were sharing with the new citizens. They were quiet and attentive in a way that reflected the magnitude of the day for all who were present.
You will find photos below and also in the next blog post. We hope the photos will help you to feel some of what those in attendance yesterday felt.