Naturalized in the Natural State07/29/2016
The phrase “E Pluribus Unum”, found on the Seal of the United States, means “out of many, one.” Those words not only recall the history of the 13 colonies coming together as one nation, they also remind us that the United States is a melting-pot of immigrants from all over the globe. When people and cultures combine on U.S. soil, they weave the beautifully diverse fabric that makes our nation so great.
This week, I had the opportunity to meet 101 of our nations’ newest citizens at the Old State House Museum in Little Rock. People from 37 countries were administered the Oath of Allegiance, swearing their loyalty and patriotism to the United States. The youngest person to take the oath of citizenship was 19, the oldest, 80. And each of the 101 can finally, proudly, call themselves Americans.
If growing up in this country has taught me anything, it would be that no matter where you come from, you have the potential to accomplish great things. I’m proud of my roots. I was raised in the small town of Gravette, and I’ve had the opportunity to do everything – from shoe-shining to governing – as a citizen of the United States. This is my version of the American Dream.
As I watched those 101 men and women recite the Oath of Allegiance, it was clear that the American Dream is now a possibility for them.
Of the many stories told at the ceremony, one that stood out to me was that of the Bruzatori family. Their journey to American citizenship began in 2002 during the Argentine Great Depression. As a result of a severe economic downturn, the Argentinian government defaulted on $155 billion of debt, causing hyperinflation across the country. To make matters worse, the government froze citizen’s access to personal savings accounts and tightly restricted all bank transactions, keeping many from using the money they had saved to support their families.
Guillermo Bruzatori, searching desperately for a way to offer his family something more, soon found himself convinced by a family friend that greater opportunities for his three children – Guillermo Jr., Florencia, and Camilla – could be found in the United States. Full of hope for a brighter future, Guillermo and his wife, Garciela, packed their bags and set off to pursue a new life for their family in the great state of Arkansas.
Today, two of the Bruzatori children have graduated from college, with the third in the process of earning her degree. After the family took the Oath of Allegiance, Florencia said, “We are very excited and proud to now be fellow Americans.”
The journey of the Bruzatori family, and of all those who received citizenship that day, have now been woven into the fabric of the American story. As we welcome our newest citizens, we can take pride in our country’s status as a beacon of hope and opportunity around the globe as the greatest nation in the world. God has truly blessed the United States of America, and in Arkansas, we are blessed to have these 101 new citizens.