Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Naturalization Ceremony
July 4, 2000

My fellow Americans: Congratulations on becoming citizens of the United States of America.

I welcome you to a life that is nourished and enlarged by the grandeur of the American dream - the dream of a nation in which all people are created equal, and all are endowed by their Creator with the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

For me, those words evoke the memory of my mother, studying the Declaration of Independence as part of her preparation for the citizenship exam. In my five-year-old eyes, the day she became a citizen, she became a bigger, more powerful person. And I know she felt that way, too. I remember how hard she studied, how thrilled she was to raise her right hand and be sworn in, and how seriously she took her new role as a citizen.

My grandfather was also an immigrant to this country. In his youth, he worked as a domestic servant in Olympia in exchange for lessons in English. Today, I live in the Governor's mansion -- just a mile away from the house where my grandfather swept floors, cooked, and washed dishes.

So it has taken my 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 held fast to their faith in America's essential goodness, and did all they could to contribute to it. We are like hundreds of millions of immigrant families, who have both 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. This country was built with the blood, sweat and tears of Native Americans and immigrants. And successive waves of immigration have served to renew and enrich the American dream, and contribute to the cultural, spiritual and intellectual wealth of our country. I hope you will make your mark, too.

America needs you. America needs your active citizenship, and your fresh perspective on our most intractable problems. And America needs your cultural contribution, too.

This country is the place where anyone from anywhere can be an individual and can invent, inspire and improve. It may be some of you who'll rub cultures to spark a new art form or world vision. Most importantly, America needs your values, and the wisdom forged from your experiences.

You have powerful traditions of strong families, and fortitude in the face of terrible hardship. Those qualities are vital to keeping our nation focused on service to others, respect for our elders and sacrifice for our children.

Your newly-minted citizenship will help to renew America, and to sustain our pride in being the land of the free, and the home of the brave.

So, on behalf of all the people of Washington State, I congratulate you on your new role as citizens of the United States of America. I implore you to use the power that is now vested in you to advance the cause of hope and opportunity. And I invite you to write the next chapter of America's history of progress toward the goals of freedom and equality for all.

Thank you very much.
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