WILLIAMSBURG — An outdoor ceremony hosted by The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and the Williamsburg Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution on the Colonial Capitol’s South Lawn saw 49 candidates receive their U.S. citizenship Monday.
After opening remarks from Cliff Fleet, President and CEO of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, the candidates were presented by Supervisory Immigration Services Officer Odette Causey, who then administered their oath of allegiance.
Following the reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and the American’s Creed, Bryan Austin, a professional actor, writer, and interpreter noted for his portrayal of James Madison, was introduced to present an address to the new citizens.
“Relax on this, the first day of your citizenship. Like the people of Williamsburg walking these streets all those years ago, you’ve been bestowed an inheritance more precious than gold, more honorable than crowns and scepters, this inheriting of freedoms never to be deprived and always to be protected,” he said.
Following the ceremony, Austin reflected on the weight of the moment.
“There’s certain moments in your life as an American citizen when you feel the weight, responsibility, and above all, the privilege and joy of being a part of this country. And it’s experiences like this that truly stand out as that. When you set aside frustration, you set aside ideas, and you come together as Americans, and you know so firmly what that means, where there’s a unanimity of what it means to be an American, that out of many, one,” he said. “Countless experiences brought them here, countless reasons. But in that moment, we’re all here for the same reason, have the same name, are the same family. And there’s nothing quite like being in a front-row seat and seeing that, and being able to take part and welcome these people.”
Representatives of The League of Women Voters were on hand to help new citizens register to vote, and at the invite of the DAR, students from Providence Classical School of Williamsburg, who helped the candidates find their way on arrival.
“It’s really nice to be here and to help them help folks get situated, and that’s what the students were volunteering to do. They were making sure people got to the right place,” explained Instructor Bryan Simpers. “Our 12th graders, in fact, the seniors are going through a Constitution class. The class is U.S. history, and it’s one of our accreditation requirements for them to go through to graduate. So this ties in perfectly.”