Fort Scott National Historic Site and the city of Fort Scott welcomed 91 new United States citizens Friday morning with the naturalization ceremony for the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas.
“Participating in ceremonies such as this is one of the best parts of my job as magistrate judge,” said the Honorable Teresa James, U.S. Magistrate Judge.
Forty different countries were represented by the new citizens, including Mexico, Canada, Ukraine, Russia, China, Thailand, South Africa, Kenya, India and others. Their careers included homemakers, students, software engineers, painters, concrete workers, professors, pastors, bakers and even a member of the United States military among others.
“I know you have worked very hard to accomplish this goal,” James said, saying they earned their citizenship with all the work they went through to reach this point. “It is a lengthy and rigorous process.”
The Honorable Mark Ward, District Judge of the 6th Judicial District, said those new citizens had to go through several steps including studying English and taking a 100-question, U.S. history and government test, which Ward pointed out many natural-born citizens would struggle to pass.
“I congratulate each and every one of you,” Mark Ward said. “You should be proud of your accomplishments.”
Ward, whose father-in-law emigrated from Italy at the age of 11 years, said that accomplishment has earned them the right to vote, practice their own religion and many other freedoms which they should hold on to.
“Many of us don’t realize how lucky we are,” Ward said. “It’s easy to take our rights and freedoms for granted.”
Betty Boyko of the historic site encouraged the new citizens to visit their site again. Boyko said the site has hosted the event four times and the fort and the entire community enjoy providing a venue for the ceremony.
“This is a great day, a great memory, and we thank you for allowing Fort Scott to be the place where this memory takes place,” Fort Scott City Manager Dave Martin said.
The Fort Scott High School band and orchestra provided music throughout the ceremony while the Pittsburg State University Army ROTC presented the colors.