U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will celebrate the 234th anniversary of the adoption of the official national symbol—the Stars and Stripes—by welcoming thousands of new citizens in special naturalization ceremonies across the nation.
Two ceremonies on June 14—one in Washington, D.C., and another in Baltimore—will be part of the weeklong festivities to commemorate Flag Day 2011. Alejandro Mayorkas, Director, USCIS, will participate in both.
“Flag Day is a time to honor America and celebrate our heritage,” said Director Mayorkas “We are a nation of immigrants and on this day it is especially meaningful to welcome new citizens, people from all over the world who help define the United States as the world’s beacon of hope and opportunity.”
In Washington, Director Mayorkas will administer the Oath of Allegiance to 20 new citizens, including four members of the U.S. armed forces, during a ceremony at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Gerda Weissmann Klein, founder of Citizenship Counts, will be a special guest and deliver congratulatory remarks. Klein, a Holocaust survivor and USCIS Outstanding American by Choice recipient, received the 2010 Medal of Freedom. The newly naturalized citizens from the U.S. armed forces will lead the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance.
That evening, the Director will travel to Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine in Baltimore and administer the Oath to 25 new citizens. Fort McHenry—known as the “Birthplace of the National Anthem”—successfully defended Baltimore Harbor during the War of 1812. It was the British bombardment of the fort that inspired Francis Scott Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
USCIS’s Flag Day celebration runs June 10-17 and includes ceremonies at the Betsy Ross House historical site in Philadelphia; the Homestead National Monument of America in Beatrice, Neb.; Colonial Williamsburg in Williamsburg, Va.; and the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society in Buffalo, N.Y.