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New citizens, Monticello, 1995

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Independence Day Celebration and Naturalization Ceremony at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello
A Local Legacy

Every year on the Fourth of July, people from many different countries come to Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's home, to become United States citizens. The process of becoming a U.S. citizen is called naturalization. After living in the U.S. for a certain number of years, an immigrant can apply for citizenship by petitioning for naturalization.

Thomas J. Michie, Judge of the U.S. District Court of Western Virginia, began the Independence Day naturalization ceremonies at Monticello in 1963. The ceremony opens with a concert of patriotic American music. The petitioners for naturalization, their family, friends, and guests are welcomed; an invited guest reads the beginning of the Declaration of Independence; and a guest speaker delivers remarks before the new citizens take an oath. After the formal proceedings, the day ends with a Fourth of July picnic.

In 2000, the ceremonies were especially significant. The guest speaker was Madeleine K. Albright, the secretary of state at the time. She is not only the first female secretary of state, but also an immigrant. Albright followed in the footsteps of Thomas Jefferson who served as the first Secretary of State, in 1790-1793.

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