Washington, DC - Remarks by Vice President Pence at a Naturalization Ceremony:
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you all for that warm welcome. And it is a great honor for me to be here on such a special day to welcome 16 new Americans to the American family. Give yourselves a round of applause. (Applause.)
And it’s an honor to be here with some extraordinary public servants as well. You just heard about her personal story, but she is the — done an extraordinary work for this nation, serving multiple administrations. And I hope she proves to each and every one of you that this is the land of opportunity. Would you join me in thanking the 18th Secretary of Transportation, Secretary Elaine Chao? Thank you so much. (Applause.)
And also I want to thank Acting Secretary Chad Wolf and Acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli and the Deputy Director Joe Edlow.
I hope you could see from where you were seated the emotion on their faces as they had the privilege of playing a role in welcoming you to the United States of America. These are men of integrity who love this country, and they love to welcome new Americans. Give them all a round of applause, will you? They’re very special people. (Applause.)
And let me also extend congratulations from another friend of mine. I just left him a few minutes ago. We were celebrating some great news in America. But I know he’d want me to extend his congratulations to each and every one of you.
So, to all the new Americans in the room, I extend congratulations and welcome from the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump. (Applause.)
And on behalf of the President and the First Lady, welcome to the White House. It’s an honor to have each one of you here for such an important milestone in your life and in the life of this nation.
There’s no naturalization ceremony that ever occurs in this country that isn’t of enormous importance to the life of this nation — because apart from our Native American brothers and sisters, the reality is that all of us came here from somewhere else. Truth is, my own story, just two short generations ago, involved immigration.
Some were brought here against their will. Some came to this continent to seek freedom and liberty. And now, from all different points on the globe, all of you have joined that journey. And we know that you are going to do your families and your nation proud as American citizens. So I welcome you once again. (Applause.)
And I’m told that this class comes from 12 countries across 5 continents. It was inspiring to see the range of backgrounds being standed during introductions. But you also come from just about every walk of life — a security officer, a cashier, a pilot, a journalist, a contractor, a graphic designer, just to name a few. And now you’ve brought those talents to the United States of America.
And let me just say, on behalf of all the people of this country: Thank you. Thank you for bringing your lives, your experience to enrich the greatest nation on Earth. We’re grateful to each and every one of you for embracing America and becoming American citizens.
From those diverse backgrounds, though, you had one common aspiration: You left hearth and home, friends and families, you left the familiar for the unfamiliar. You’re part of the long American story that we will celebrate in just a few short days.
And you come at a time — you come at a time of unique challenges in America and across the wider world, as we deal with an unprecedented pandemic. But I think the world has seen and you will continue to be a part of a story that demonstrates the resilience and the strength of the American people. Because as the jobs numbers testified today — nearly 5 million jobs created in the last month — we’re opening up America again, and you’re in the midst of a great American comeback. (Applause.)
And you’ll be a part of that. Our history now is your story. And by bringing your talents and your energies and your enthusiasm and your devotion — so eloquently articulated not just in the oath that you took, but in the pledge that we all recited — we know you’re going to play your own individual part in making a stronger and more prosperous America.
And it’s actually — it’s good to be with you, as we’re just a few days away from celebrating our Independence Day. Two hundred and forty-four years ago, a group of Americans gathered in Philadelphia and signed a document pledging their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor behind a set of ideals, a commitment that all are created equal.
Even though at that time in the life of our nation, some were not considered that way, we committed to a more perfect union. And each and every year since, our nation — our nation has strived for a more perfect union. And I know, with the diversity of backgrounds that each of you bring, you will enrich America and be a part of our steady march towards that more perfect union. And I thank you. I truly do.
But you may not know that 244 years ago today was also a momentous day. July the 2nd, 1776, was actually the day that a man who would become our first Vice President said that we’d be celebrating our independence. You may not have actually known this, but it was on July the 2nd, 1776, that Congress actually declared independence by adopting a resolution. And John Adams, our first Vice President — I’m partial to Vice Presidents — (laughter) — actually wrote in a letter to his wife Abigail, quote, “The second day of July 1776 will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America.” He said, “I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations with great anniversary festivals, with pomp and parade, shows and games, sports guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations.”
Well, actually, we celebrate that two days from now, but now you’re a part of the great and storied history of July the 2nd. So welcome. (Applause.)
Two hundred and forty-four years after that courageous decision, the liberty that was won, now you’re a part of America’s steady march. And I just want to — I want to commend you. I want to commend you for having the courage to reach for your dreams and to make the sacrifices necessary to become part of the greatest nation in the history of the world.
And your stories are truly inspiring, like a man who came to this country 16 years ago from the Philippines. His family is already making contributions to this country. One of his sons, I’m told, serves as an Army medic at Fort Carson in Colorado. Another of his sons is a cargo specialist in the Army Reserve. What a great family. So today, Orlando Medrano is an American and a proud father, to say the least. (Applause.) Stand up. And give those boys my best.
And I was also inspired by the testimony of a woman who’s here today who said, and I quote, that, “As an American, I can travel. I can go to school. I can vote. I can achieve my goals and my dreams. In a word, becoming an American citizen for me is freedom.” And those inspiring words tell me that she has chosen well and America has done well by welcoming Fatoumata Ouattara as a new American citizen. Where are you Fatoumata? (Applause.) Thank you so much. Beautiful words. Welcome.
And at this moment in the life of our nation, it’s also deeply meaningful to hear the story of a man from Nigeria, who works as a security officer and had a dream of becoming a police officer in the United States — a dream that we hope he pursues, a great and noble profession. Those who serve and protect our communities are the best among us. So allow me to thank and to congratulate Olanrewaju Akinremi. (Applause.) Great job. Congratulations.
I’m just glad I got through those great names, those beautiful names. (Laughter.) And thank you. Thank you for your patience.
But frankly, all your stories are inspiring. All your stories are now a part of the American story. And I must tell you the reason why I’ve made this a bit of a tradition since becoming your Vice President is because it’s part of my story too. The reality is that, just like you had the courage to step forward to come to America and to go through the process of becoming American citizens, my grandfather did the same.
In fact, I’ll never forget: The day that I was inaugurated as the 48th Vice President of the United States, I was sitting up on the platform, and people have asked me since what I thought about at that time — my wife at my side, our three children — and I honestly couldn’t stop thinking about my grandfather.
You see, he came to this country — stepped off onto Ellis Island on April 11, 1923. He took the train to New York City; he moved to Chicago, Illinois; he drove a bus for 40 years. He raised a precocious redhead who would become my mother, who married a salesman and moved to a small town in southern Indiana. And they built everything that matters: a family, a business, and a good name.
And that day of Inauguration Day, I couldn’t help — I couldn’t help but think of my grandfather and what he must have been thinking, looking down from glory. You see, I was actually named after him. I’m Michael Richard Pence, and he was Richard Michael Cawley.
I’ve actually been in Ireland to the — to see the house he grew up in with 10 brothers and sisters. The house itself wasn’t more than two rooms with a thatched roof in Ireland. And the legend in our family is that my great-grandmother managed to get him a one-way ticket to America. And she told him, “You have to go because there’s a future there for you.”
And I was part of that future. And my three brothers and two sisters, the same. And now his great-grandchildren — great-grandchildren are also living the American Dream. But it all happened because he made the decision to go, to leave hearth and home behind. He wouldn’t see his mother for 25 years.
But he did it. And I believe he did it with faith in this country, faith in the boundless opportunities in America, and also with an aspiration and a hope for the children and the grandchildren that would follow.
And I’ll be forever in his debt, but I’m also a debtor to America. I’m a debtor to America that made good the promise that put my grandfather on that boat and brought him across. And I want to say to each and every one of you: Wherever you have come from, you are now Americans. And America will make good on our promise to each and every one of you: boundless opportunity for all. So go out and grab that dream. (Applause.)
But as I close, let me say: On this day when you become citizens of the freest and most prosperous nation in the history of the world, there’s a Bible verse that I’ve long cherished. It reads, “To who much is given, much will be required.” And as you embrace the responsibilities of citizenship and the privileges, I hope you also find a way to give back for all you’ve been given on this day.
Raise a great family. Build a business. Serve in law enforcement. Even put on the uniform of the United States. Be a teacher. Volunteer at a local service club. Or run for office. Find a way to serve. Find a way to give back. Live out the oath that you just recited to this country in your everyday lives. And I promise you, everything that you give to America, you will receive beyond anything you could ask or imagine back.
You’ve inherited a legacy of liberty that generations of Americans have paid for with their lives. And so use it well, and do your part.
And finally, like that Irishman I was talking and like each and every one of you, keep dreaming big. There are no dreams too big in the land of the free and the home of the brave. You work hard. You play by the rules. Sky’s the limit.
So congratulations to 16 new Americans. May God bless you. And may God bless your new home, the United States of America.