CEDAR RAPIDS – A museum that celebrates the immigrant experience in America provided the perfect setting Friday, Feb. 22, for 75 people to become U.S. citizens.
The National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, 1400 Inspiration Place SW, hosted a naturalization ceremony, the formal proceeding that marks the end of the process to become a citizen.
From Australia to Vietnam, the new citizens represented 35 different countries of origin and ranged in age from 20 to 78.
See photos from the 2017 ceremony at the museum.
“Ours is a country of immigrants,” said Magistrate Judge Mark Roberts, who presided over the ceremony, conducted by the U. S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa.
Paraphrasing John F. Kennedy, Roberts added, “ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your new country.”
Cecilia Rokusek, museum president and CEO, welcomed the candidates in English, Czech and Slovak.
“We are about freedom,” she said of the museum’s mission, “and connecting freedom to human dignity.”
A technical glitch made it impossible to show video messages that are typically run from Iowa’s U.S. senators and the president. Sen. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst were not present, but staff read their messages, instead.
No representative was available from the president’s office to pass along a message from Donald Trump.
Naturalization, the procedure for people born outside of the United States to become U.S. citizens, is a lengthy process.
Eligible candidates must prove they have lived in the U.S. continuously for three to five years, are at least 18 years old and demonstrate good moral character and loyalty to the U.S. Constitution. Candidates also must take an English and civics test.
Learn about other Czech events in Iowa and see more photos from the naturalization ceremony, below: