By Charles Sercombe
When it comes to immigration and U.S. citizenship, Hamtramck is the place to turn to.
That’s exactly what the federal government did on Wednesday, with the help of Hamtramck’s Piast Institute and the Polish National Alliance.
Some 154 new citizens were sworn in at the PNA hall on Conant. Thaddeus Radzilowski, president of the Piast Institute, spoke to the group, saying Hamtramck “symbolizes the experience of the immigrant.”
And that story involves new arrivals creating a home here and building a community, brick by brick. But more important, Radzilowski said, is that these new citizens are part of the American family, “heirs” of our country’s founding fathers and the legacy of Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Welcome home, your place is ready for you,” he said.
Before the naturalization ceremony was conducted by US District Court Judge George Caram Steeh, the judge acknowledged that for many waiting to become citizens, the path is a “long, long road.”
Some came from as far away as Asia, the Middle East, India, Africa and Europe. And some fled harsh existences to make a better life and to breathe liberty.
“You risked your lives for you future,” Judge Steeh said.
And, he stressed, with citizenship comes a “great responsibility” to help run our government, on the national, state and local levels. With that responsibility also comes an oath to defend America, something millions of Americans have done with their own blood.
The weight and importance of the messages the newly minted citizens heard did not go unnoticed.
After the ceremony, Kris Hadiwibowo, who came to the U.S. from Indonesia in 1989 and now lives in Troy, said becoming a citizen “is the greatest moment of my life.”