Harrison Presidential Site hosting annual naturalization ceremony, Independence Day Social

The Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site in Indianapolis will start the Fourth of July holiday weekend by hosting a naturalization ceremony, marking the 20th year the former Hoosier president’s home has welcomed new American citizens.

About 100 people from across the world will become American citizens at the naturalization ceremony, which starts at 10 a.m. on July 1. Southern Indiana District Court Senior Judge Sarah Evans Barker will preside over the event and Harrison’s great-great-great-grandson, Kimball Harrison Morsman, will make a few remarks.

“For us, it’s very much about making sure that for these new citizens that it’s a very welcoming environment,” Charles Hyde, president and CEO of the Harrison Presidential Site, said. “So, we’re going to great lengths to ensure that everything looks at its best.”

Also, from 1 to 4 p.m. July 4, the Harrison home will welcome families for its annual Independence Day Social. Guests can enjoy tours of the first floor of Harrison’s residence then cool off by eating ice cream, playing a few yard games and listening to patriotic music.

Reservations are required for this free event. Registration information can be found here.

The presidential site first hosted a naturalization ceremony on its grounds in 2003. This year, many of the new additions are being completed as part of presidential site’s Old Glory New Vision  capital campaign.

As usual, the naturalization ceremony will be held under a big tent on the south lawn. Adjacent will be the new presidential promenade which includes all the U.S. presidents. This leads to the citizenship plaza which will include a display of the founding documents.

Also on display will be the Book of History, a stainless steel outdoor book with turning pages. The book honors those who have been naturalized at the Harrison home since 2003 as well as the presiding judge and U.S. attorney who were present at each ceremony.

Hyde explained the new citizens will be given the option of being listed in the book, and the book will serve as a commemorative marker for the new citizens to share with their families for generations.

“It’s our way of honoring what Benjamin Harrison said that an American citizen could not be a good citizen who did not have a hope in his heart,” Hyde said. “This is our way of showing the hope in our hearts for these newest American citizens and how they call upon all of us to do our duties as citizens both acknowledging the rights but also the responsibilities of citizenship.”

Guests for the Independence Day Social will also be able to enjoy the new additions along with the 89-foot centennial flagpole.

Harrison, who served as the 23rd president from 1889 to 1893, encouraged the public to display the American flag and recite the Pledge of Allegiance. The Hoosier president was captivated by the display of the Stars and Stripes when he visited New York for the centennial celebration of Washington’s inauguration.

“All the store signs and all the show windows were covered with the flag,” Harrison wrote of the centennial celebration. “There was not a suggestion of commerce upon the whole route. The thought occurred to me what should be done with these flags when the parade is over; and at the banquet at the Metropolitan Opera House, I made the suggestion that they should be taken to the school houses.”

As Americans prepare for their own Fourth of July celebrations, they will likely give a nod to President Harrison by adorning their homes with the flag.

Hyde explained Harrison saw the flag as a way to build national unity by reminding U.S. citizens that they are all part of the same country.

“That Harrison looked forward with hope in his heart, I think that’s what continues to have relevance to many of the conversations that we have today,” Hyde said. “Harrison just sought … to recognize people pursuing the best interests of their country and to find those things at least that helped bring us together than just pull us apart.”

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