Reflect on Citizenship at Naturalization Ceremony Sept. 20

Jane Njeri Lifer smiles following the naturalization ceremony in 2017. In her hand is the certificate of naturalization. Lifer is a Fort Scott resident.

What has become an annual Fort Scott event since 2011 each September is a chance to see people from all parts of the globe become citizens of the United States.

The Naturalization Ceremony, as it’s called, will be at 10:30 a.m. on the grounds of the Fort Scott National Historic Site, just off the north end of Main Street.

Fort Scott National Historic Site

The naturalization ceremony involves a judge introducing the group of new citizens and a ceremony where they swear allegiance to their new country. The full program and words to that allegiance are at the bottom of this story.

” Last year we had 95 new citizens from 35 countries,” Carl Brenner from the Fort Scott National Historic Site said. “This year we are expecting about 120 new citizens.”

It is also a time of reflection, music, documents handed out, registering to vote for the new citizens, followed by a communal meal at the Fort for them and their families.

A bird’s eye view of voter registration following the naturalization ceremony. The League of Women Voters, Johnson County, provided the resources for the registration.

The United States District Court for the District of Kansas is the official government office holding the event.

The Honorable Teresa J. James, United States Magistrate Judge for the District of Kansas, will preside over the ceremony.

Fort Scott High School musicians play patriotic music.
All the citizens are introduced to the audience, one by one.

This year, the speaker is Dr. Leo Oliva.

Dr. Oliva is a Kansas Historian, author and former professor of history at Fort Hays State University, Betty Boyko, Superintendent of FSNHS, said.

The event is open to the public.

In case of rain or other inclement weather, the ceremony will be held at Fort Scott Memorial Hall.

FSNHS Superintendent Betty Boyko welcomes the crowd to the fort grounds in this 2016 photo.
The PSU ROTC presents the flags of America and Kansas during the ceremony in 2015.


The program:

There will be music provided by the Fort Scott High School Orchestra.

Then a welcome by Betty Boyko, Fort Scott National Historic Site and Dave Martin, City of Fort Scott.

The official court proceeding will be opened by U.S. District Court Deputy Carol Kuhl.

Followed by the presentation of the Colors by Pittsburg State University Army ROTC.

“The Star-Spangled Banner”  will be played by the FSHS Orchestra.

The new citizens will be welcomed by Judge James.

“America: Sweet Land of Liberty” arranged by Michael Story will be played by the FSHS Orchestra.

The new citizens will be introduced by John King, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, then led in the recitation of the Oath of Citizenship by Carol Kuhl, Courtroom Deputy.

“America the Beautiful” will be performed by the  FSHS Orchestra and Choir, followed by remarks by James.

The group will then hear from Leo E. Oliva, who is a Kansas historian.

The Pledge of Allegiance will be led by the FSHS Choir.

Closing remarks will be by Judge James.

The new citizens and their families will be offered a complimentary lunch in the Grand Hall provided by the Friends of Fort Scott NHS, Inc.

The following is the oath that the new citizens take:

United States of America Oath of Allegiance

I, _________________________ hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.

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