Chinn: One of the Best Ways to Celebrate America's Birthday

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iba-chinn-scottThere’s a lot I enjoy about being involved in the IndyBar. I must confess, though, that about the best thing I have been able to do a several times over the past few years is represent the IndyBar at naturalization ceremonies conducted by the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. A real privilege for me this year was being the IndyBar’s representative at the annual Independence Day naturalization ceremony held on July 3 at the Benjamin Harrison Home.

Yes, it was blisteringly hot that day, even under the tent. But it was worth it, as it always is. With Judge Sarah Evans Barker presiding, U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett moved the admission of 98 new citizens hailing from dozens of countries across the globe. Various comments were delivered to mark the occasion, with some of the most interesting coming from Indiana University President Michael McRobbie, who was himself sworn in as a citizen just a few years ago, and from Yemane Gessesse, a Cummins engineer and member of the class of new citizens. There are a lot of moments during these events that tug at your heart and induce mist in your eyes, like when the eldest new citizen is provided a flag that’s flown over the U.S. Capitol and when the youngest new citizen leads all those assembled in the pledge of allegiance.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, our newest citizens are reminded that they can register to vote on site and are handed a variety of mementos to commemorate the event. In our case, we provide a booklet containing copies of the U.S. and Indiana Constitutions. I was able to hand one to each new citizen personally as I got to shake his or her hand and give congratulations.

If you’ve never been to a naturalization ceremony, you should try to remedy that. No matter what time of year the event is conducted, you’ll leave with a heart as warm as a July day.

Here’s an example of the traditional speech IndyBar representatives give at the ceremonies – this one was tailored for the Independence Day event:

As a representative of the Indianapolis Bar Association, I wish to extend my Association’s best wishes and congratulations on this joyous occasion. To welcome you as new Citizens of the United States and the State of Indiana is a unique pleasure. And it is especially exciting to do so at the home of President Benjamin Harrison, who was one of the founders of the Indianapolis Bar Association.

The Indianapolis Bar Association was formed more than 130 years ago for several important reasons. The most prominent were to advance the profession of law, to uphold and defend the constitution, to develop and maintain both integrity and impartiality in the administration of justice and to apply its knowledge and experience in the field of law to the promotion of the public good. Just as the members of the IndyBar have sworn to defend our Constitution, so have you. This is the common thread we share and the duty we both agree to bear.

Respect for the law plays an important role in American society. When we are at our best as Americans, we do three remarkable things because of our respect for the law. We resolve our differences without resort to violence, using our court system when appropriate. We safeguard the legal rights we possess under our constitutions and laws and respect the similar rights of others. And our governments and elected leaders transfer power peacefully when called upon to do so by the people. We demand this respect of ourselves and expect it of our fellow citizens.

To honor this occasion, the Indianapolis Bar will provide each of you with a book with the Constitutions of the United States and the State of Indiana. The rights and freedoms that we enjoy as United States Citizens are precious and unparalleled. Our hope is that this gift will remind you of the blessings of liberty and justice that we enjoy every day in our lives as Americans.

The Indianapolis Bar Association is proud to welcome you as citizens of this wonderful country.

Interested in taking part in this heart-warming volunteer opportunity? Contact Caren Chopp at to volunteer.•


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