The national monument became a federal courtroom for a bit, long enough for the 70, who came from a number of different countries, to swear their allegiance to the United States.
United States District Judge John Gerrard, presiding, explains to the new citizens what their oath does and does not mean.
“What you solemnly renounced in that oath, is the allegiance to the government of another land,” according to Gerrard. “You did not renounce, nor should you ever renounce, the devotion you carry in your hearts for your native land, that your carry in your hearts for your people and your culture, and I hope you will preserve that always.”
Gerrard tells the new citizens they have joined a free people and should not be intimidated to conform in matters of religion, politics, social views, or economics.
“Simply stated, there is no single American way to think or believe,” Gerrard says. “Indeed, conformity of thought and belief would be contrary to the underlying principles of this great nation.”
Gerrard encourages each person who took the oath to register to vote as their first act of citizenship.
Gerrard says presiding over the naturalization ceremony is one of the most important and enjoyable things he does as a federal judge.
Doug Kennedy, KWBE, contributed to this report.