Remarks by The Honorable Heather Wilson
Former Member of Congress
Convention Center, Albuquerque, New Mexico
March 5, 2010
It’s such a pleasure to be with you to celebrate this wonderful day in your lives. Let me be one of the first to welcome you as America’s newest citizens. Many Americans take this gift of citizenship for granted. Many of us are here because our forefathers, at some point, made the choice you just made.
We didn’t have to pass a test, or know the Constitution, or demonstrate that we can speak English. You’ve made a choice. You waited. You worked hard. You studied. And now, as someone told me at a previous nationalization ceremony, you get to have a second birthday: the day you became an American. And from now on, when someone asks you your nationality, you can smile and say those wonderful words, “I’m an American.”
Over 230 years ago, a sparsely populated collection of colonies on the edge of a vast continent embarked on an experiment in self-government that was not expected to succeed. Men and some women who had a great deal to lose pledged everything they had – their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor – to secure liberty and prove that a people could govern themselves. Many of those men who signed the declaration of independence did lose their lives, and their fortunes, and their families to secure our liberty. But none of them – not one – ever turned their back on their pledge. They never lost their honor.
These founding Americans were some of the first to let go of their past in order to build a new future. You are some of the most recent.