Tuesday, Oct 5, 2010
Under clear, blue skies and surrounded by towering red rock formations at the park's La Sal Mountain Overlook, individuals from Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Columbia, El Salvador, Finland, Guatemala, Honduras, Italy, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru, United Kingdom, and Venezuela pledged their allegiance to this country in one of its most spectacular national parks.
Being the first such ceremony held in Arches National Park, and the event attracted park employees and visitors alike wanting to be part of this symbolic and meaningful occasion. The National Park Idea is often referred to as "The best idea America ever had….", and the chance for individuals from around the world to be welcomed as new citizens of this country in places so integral to our national identity and character, and for which we are so proud, was incredibly moving. Ceremony participants and their families and friends expressed gratitude and delight in being invited to such a wonderful place for their special day, and many asked for suggestions on what to do, where to go, and what to see in the park during the remainder of the day. One new citizen asked where he could go to buy his "old person’s pass" – stating he was much older than 62 years of age, but only now was eligible to purchase one!
The ceremony at Arches was one of several such naturalization events held in national parks throughout the country from September 13th through the 24th in conjunction with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' celebration of Constitution Day and Citizenship Day.