BY MICHAEL RICONDA
The ceremony, which is held about six times each year, commemorates foreign-born Rockland residents’ decision to accept U.S. citizenship. A total of 152 new citizens were welcomed from 38 nations with a formal swearing-in, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance and the singing of the “Star Spangled Banner.”
Of the attendees, a significant number came from a small group of high-immigration countries, with 33 from Haiti, 16 from India, 15 from the Dominican Republic, and 14 from the Phillipines. Other nations such as China, Guatemala and Jamaica also had strong showings.
County Clerk Paul Piperato, who swore in the new citizens, explained the importance of their choice to add to the cultural melting pot of their new country and the value of encouraging diversity through citizenship.
“I think it educates all of us that we, as one county, have to live together,” County Clerk Paul Piperato said. “We have to intertwine our beliefs, our traditions and our cultures so that we can live as one united county.”
County Executive-elect Ed Day, who attended the ceremony as the keynote speaker, implored the new Americans to remember not only the rights and obligations they earned by accepting citizenship, but also the value of a privilege taken for granted by many native-born Americans.
“America is a place where people wanted to be, chose to be, and eventually made the decision to be.” Day said.
Aside from the formal welcoming of the honorees to their adopted country, the event also gave them the opportunity to learn about various rights, responsibilities and privileges of citizenship such as social security and voter registration.