Dreams and diversity were celebrated at the Hoover Dam April 4 as 24 people pledged their oath of allegiance to the United States of America and became her newest citizens.
“It was a dream for me as a little child to become a citizen of the United States of America,” said Edgar Theisen who was born and raised in Germany. “Today, the dream came true, and having it done here at the Hoover Dam, is just the icing on the cake.”
The citizens originated from 12 nations: Ethiopia, Germany, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Nicaragua, Philippines, Poland, South Korea and Spain.
“It’s a big deal to come to a different place and want to become a citizen,” said Jaci Gould, Bureau of Reclamation, Lower Colorado Region deputy regional director. “It’s important to recognize that that isn’t an easy task.”
Just after becoming a citizen, Anita Aguilar, who originated from the Philippines, agreed.
“To be a U.S. citizen, it’s really tough to me, and this is my dream come true,” she said. “If you want to think about something you like, do it! Don’t think about it like, ‘Oh I can’t do it. I can’t do it.’ You have to do it. Be strong.”
U.S. District Judge the Honorable Judge Peggy Leen presided over the naturalization ceremony. She celebrated the diversity of America and reminded the new citizens of their responsibilities as contributors to the nation.
“America has been diverse since its inception. Its diversity is our strength. We have called on the best and the brightest from all over the world to contribute to American life and society,” she said.
“It is now your responsibility as our newest citizens to participate in your own way in American life and society, so that America remains the shining beacon on the hill for your children and generations to come because freedom is not free.”
The ceremony was held in partnership with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Bureau of Reclamation and the National Park Service. The Hoover Dam was constructed in the 1930s with the support of many immigrants. Its completion created Lake Mead, a national park unit that is known today as America’s most diverse national recreation area.
“National parks began with the idea that America’s greatest treasures belong to everyone and they should be preserved. It’s not just about the scenic beauties. Parks tell the story of this great nation and its diversity,” said Lizette Richardson, Lake Mead National Recreation Area superintendent.
“I’m inspired thinking about the journey that each one of you took to get here today,” she added. “I know it’s been a lot of work. I know the support of your families has been really important. I truly applaud you and congratulate you on getting to this opportunity.”
The ceremony included a presentation of colors by the Transportation Security Administration Honor Guard, a presentation of the flag by the Southern Nevada Elks and Daughters of the American Revolution and a video message by President Donald J. Trump.