Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
July 4, 2003
My fellow Americans. You’ve all worked hard to earn the right to hear those words, so I’d like to repeat them:
My fellow Americans.
Congratulations on becoming citizens of the United States of America.
Today we celebrate the American dream. 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.
I have great memories of my mother, studying the Declaration of Independence as she prepared for the citizenship exam. I was five years old. Like you, she was sworn in on the 4th of July. 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. And I remember how seriously she took her new role as a citizen—and still does today.
I can feel that same dedication and sense of civic responsibility in this group of new American citizens.
My grandfather came to the U.S. from China as a teenager 100 years ago. He worked as a servant for a family in Olympia in exchange for English lessons. Today, I live in the Governor’s mansion. Just one mile away from the house where my grandfather swept floors, cooked, and washed dishes.
It took our family more than 100 years to travel one mile. But what a journey it has been! A journey of hope, hard work, faith and the belief in the American Dream.
My parents taught us to work hard and get a good education. And we found many opportunities. Our family lived the American dream.
We are like millions of immigrant families. We have benefited from the American dream, like all of you. And we have helped shape it, just as all of you will.
This country has made its mark on immigrants from around the world, and immigrants have made their mark on this great country. And that is how American progress is made. This country was built with the blood, sweat and tears of Native Americans and immigrants. And wave after wave of immigrants have renewed and enriched the American dream, and contributed to the cultural, spiritual and intellectual wealth of our country. I know you will make your mark, too.
America needs you. America needs your active citizenship, your fresh perspectives on our toughest problems, and your cultural contribution.
In America, anyone from anywhere can invent, inspire and improve. From this group of new Americans today—from 65 countries—will come new solutions, new art forms, new ideas, and new world visions. America needs your values, and the wisdom forged from your experiences.
You have powerful traditions of strong families, and strength in the face of severe hardship. Those qualities are vital in keeping our nation focused on service to others, respect for our elders and sacrifice for our children.
Today we celebrate the 227th Birthday of the United States of America. 227 years ago the Declaration of Independence was signed and America was born. Citizens and newly naturalized citizens are invited to join in the celebration by signing a copy of the Declaration of Independence. These copies will become part of the permanent collection of records at the National Archives in Washington D.C. By signing copies of the Declaration of Independence, you are symbolically starting new lives. And renewing the American dream.
On behalf of the people of Washington State, I congratulate you on becoming citizens of the United States of America. I ask you to use the power now vested in you to advance the cause of hope and opportunity. And I invite you to help write the next chapter of America’s history of freedom and equality for all.
We are very proud of you.
God bless you, and God bless America.