This morning was a great start to the Independence Day holidays. At Cinderella Castle forecourt this morning was a Naturalization Ceremony for 1,000 of America’s newest citizens. Over the next two days, 6,000 new Americans will take the Oath of Allegiance and become, officially, Americans.

The morning began getting all of the candidates in their seats in the castle forecourt, which took about an hour. There was paperwork for them to sign and the small detail of finding a seat, but the castmembers were on top of it all to make sure everyone was well taken care of.

Once the ceremony begun, it proceeded with Disney’s trademark style. The introduction and welcoming remarks came from Meg Croft, President of Walt Disney World. From there, the US Naval and Operations Support Center, stationed here in Orlando, FL, presented the colors.

Next came a soloist from the Voices of Liberty to sing our National Anthem. It was quite a wonderful performance of the song and set a nice tone for the rest of the morning’s events.

The really moving portion came during the Call of Countries and Presentation of the Candidates. They called every country, I believe there were just over 100, and had those candidates rise for their country of origin. There was a lot of shouting to be heard and it was quite inspiring to see these folks so excited and waving the American flag. Once this was finished, Michael Aytes, Deputy Director of the USCIS, administered the oath.

Oath of Allegiance

I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.

Keynote Address

The keynote was delivered by Mr. Andy Garcia, the Academy Award Nominated actor, producer and director, a naturalized citizen who hails from Cuba. He is a great speaker, which is not always the case with screen actors, and you could see how at ease he was with the crowds. he was a gracious host and can speak to the day from his personal experiences. Next on the agenda was the Pledge of Allegiance, lead by an Air Force soldier who was also becoming a citizen today.

Pledge of Allegiance

I pledge allegiance to the flag
of the United States of America
and to the Republic
for which it stands
one nation under God
indivisible, with liberty
and justice for all

Wrapping it up

Finishing up the ceremony was the Voices of Liberty and a wonderful rendition of God Bless the USA with closing remarks by Meg Crofton. Having traveled the world extensively, I know what a shining beacon our nation’s ideals are to people around the world. This morning I was able to witness our democracy in action as these new fellow citizens renounced their native lands and became part of the great melting pot called America.

It was a wonderful opportunity to see such a massive event and the folks at Disney did a great job. It was a pleasure to partake in the day’s events and one that I won’t forget.