Applicants for U.S. citizenship and their families and friends packed the gymnasium at Metropolitan Community College-Penn Valley for a ceremony that was marked by frequent applause, big smiles and plenty of picture-taking.
“I truly wish you all the rich blessings that come with being an American,” U.S. District Court Judge Brian C. Wimes told the new citizens after they’d taken the Oath of Allegiance. They would later join the rest of the audience in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
At the June 2 naturalization ceremony, 168 applicants representing 55 countries — from Albania to Vietnam, with each person’s name displayed on a big screen — became U.S. citizens. Afterward, they picked up their naturalization certificates from officials with the Western District Court of Missouri.
The guest speaker was Yvette Sweeney, Penn Valley’s dean of student development and enrollment management, who told those assembled that “we at MCC” were proud to witness the new citizens’ big day. A representative of the Kansas City election board reminded the new Americans to register to vote — which they could do following the ceremony.
MCC’s own Donald Wiltfong sang “America the Beautiful,” accompanying himself on guitar. He is a project coordinator in the Office of Auxiliary Services and Business Relations.
Judge Wimes announced at the onset that he’d stay as long as necessary for pictures — and sure enough, there was a long line afterward.
Thanks to everyone at MCC who joined forces to make this an event to remember.
Here are some scenes from the ceremony. Click any image to see it bigger. (Photos by Rana Miller and Tim Engle/MCC)
The U.S. Oath of Allegiance begins: “I do hereby declare, upon 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 . . .”