NPS: Congaree National Park Holds Naturalization Ceremony
Bureau: National Park Service
|Teacher-Ranger-Teacher Rynn Fitzpatrick's first-graders sing "It's a Grand Old Flag" for candidates at naturalization ceremony in Congaree National Park's Harry Hampton Visitor Center. Photo by Lauren Gurniewicz, NPS.
Congaree National Park’s Harry Hampton Visitor Center auditorium was packed with new citizens, friends, family and park staff for the park’s first ever naturalization ceremony on Friday, Jan. 24.
Twenty-eight candidates took the oath of citizenship and were presented certificates by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. For most participants, the ceremony was their first visit to Congaree National Park.
The new citizens came from 20 countries, including Brazil, Côte d'Ivoire, Czech Republic, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Philippines, Russia, Syria, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Venezuela and Vietnam.
Superintendent Tracy Stakely presented brief remarks during the ceremony, welcoming candidates to their national park and inviting them to experience the national park system. Students from the South Carolina Youth Challenge Academy presented and retired the colors. Teacher-Ranger-Teacher Rynn Fitzpatrick and her first grade students from Rocky Creek Elementary sang patriotic songs and recited the Pledge of Allegiance for program attendees.
The ceremony was the result of months of planning and coordination with staff at the USCIS Charleston Field Office. Congaree is located halfway between South Carolina’s two USCIS field offices, making the park an ideal location to host this and future ceremonies. Local press coverage and additional photos are available online in The State newspaper.
By: Lauren Gurniewicz, NPS
Jan. 30, 2014
This story appears in the Jan. 29 edition of InsideNPS.