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On July 4th, I took part in the 20th Annual Naturalization Ceremony at Fisher Pavilion in Seattle. We had the honor of seeing more than 500 people from 73 countries being sworn in as new citizens of the United States of America.
And we celebrated the American dream, born 228 years ago. The dream of a nation where all people are created equal, and all are endowed by their Creator with the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
This was the 15th year I’ve had the honor of attending these Fourth of July naturalization ceremonies—eight years as Governor, three years as King County Executive, and four years before that as a state legislator. Every year, my heart swells with pride and gratitude, because these ceremonies are very special to me. My mother was sworn in as a United States citizen at just such a ceremony, 50 years ago.
|Quote of the Week
“In America, anyone from anywhere can invent, inspire and improve. From this group of new Americans today will come new solutions, new art forms, new ideas, and new world visions. America needs your values, and the wisdom forged from your experiences.”
—Governor Locke, 20th Annual Naturalization Ceremony, Seattle, July 4, 2004
I have such great memories of my mom learning English and studying the Declaration of Independence as she prepared for the citizenship exam. I was five years old, and I was also learning English, right alongside her. And the day she became a citizen, she became a bigger, more powerful person to me. I know she felt that way, too. I remember how hard she studied. I remember how thrilled she was to raise her right hand and be sworn in. I remember how seriously she took her new role as a citizen—and still does today.
My parents taught us that if we worked hard and got a good education, opportunities would come our way. Our family is like millions of immigrant families. Like millions of those others, we have benefited from the American dream, and helped shape it.
This country has made its mark on us, and we have made our mark on this country. And that is how American progress is made. America was built with the blood, sweat and tears of Native Americans and immigrants. Successive waves of immigration have served to renew and enrich the American dream.
More than most states, Washington is a state of immigrants. Immigrants played a very direct and important role in our state’s development. They were the hardworking backbone of prosperity and progress. They logged the forests, farmed the land, fished the waters, dug the mines and built the railroads. Immigrants helped transform Washington state and other states into modern-day economic success stories.
And many immigrants, even before they became U.S. citizens, served in our armed forces and fought in world wars to keep America safe and free and because they believed in the essential goodness, promise and destiny of America.
Sunday’s naturalization ceremony was a very moving reminder that diversity is our country's greatest strength. It is more than a cacophonous din of many voices shouting to be heard— it is a symphony of voices, rich in breadth and variety. And the music of 500 joined voices from all parts of the world reciting the Pledge of Allegiance for the first time as U.S. citizens is as stirring a symphony as any I have ever heard.
Diversity gives us great cultural, spiritual and intellectual wealth. And once again, on July 4th, we added to that wealth with our new citizens. We welcome their active citizenship, their fresh perspectives on our toughest challenges, and their cultural contribution.
We welcome the affirmation that every naturalization ceremony gives. The American Dream is alive and well, and the proof shines brightly in the thankful eyes of our new fellow citizens.Sincerely,
Washington First with Disaster Plan
Governor Locke announced the approval of the state’s enhanced hazard mitigation plan on July 7. Washington is the first state in the nation to have its plan approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). “I am proud that our enhanced plan is the first in the nation approved by FEMA,” the Governor said. “This will help communities throughout the state plan for and respond to disasters. By doing so, we can help spare individuals and families from the heartbreak of losing their homes, as well as injury and even death.”
The state’s enhanced hazard mitigation plan will result in great benefits to the state, including increased Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funds following a disaster. States with enhanced hazard mitigation plans can receive funds of up to 20 percent of federal Stafford Act expenditures on a disaster, compare to 7.5 percent for states with standard plans. “Having an enhanced plan demonstrates the state's commitment to a comprehensive hazard mitigation program,” the Governor said.
Call for Bone Marrow Donors
Governor Locke met with Greg Hachey, an 11 year-old Puyallup boy with leukemia in need of a bone marrow transplant to have a chance at a full recovery, on July 8. The Governor also called on the public to sign up with the National Marrow Donor Program Registry to determine if they match with someone in need. “Your bone marrow donation could save Greg’s life, or the life of someone else in need,” the Governor said. “Please give just a small blood sample so you can be included on the national registry.” Because tissue type varies by ethnicity, Greg will most likely need a donor who, like himself, has one parent who is Caucasian and the other Filipino, or a full-blooded Filipino. Individuals of other Asian Pacific Island ethnicities may also be a match. “There is a great need for people to sign up with a bone marrow registry,” the Governor said. “People of Asian descent, and most significantly, those of mixed-race backgrounds, are especially needed as donors.”
Individuals who are interested in joining the National Marrow Donor Program Registry can contact the Puget Sound Blood Center at 1-800-DONATE1, ext 1897. A state agency marrow registry drive will be held August 26 at the Department of Social and Health Services. In order to facilitate donations among state workers, Governor Locke issued an executive order in 2002 allowing state employees to take paid leave to participate in life-giving procedures like bone marrow typing and donations.
Read on the Lawn With Governor Locke
Governor Locke and the Timberland Regional Library are inviting children and adults to do a little summer reading on Wednesday, July 14th, from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm on the Capitol Campus lawn in Olympia. Participants are encouraged to bring their lunch and picnic blanket and read during the noon hour in support of the 2004 Governor’s Summer Reading Challenge. Governor Locke, the 2004 Lakefair princess court, the South Sound Reading Foundation’s Booker T. Bear, and the dogs of PAWS To Read Pet Partners will all be in attendance. For more information please call 360-902-0653.
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