Recently, as part of commemorating 100-years of America’s National Park Service, I had the pleasure of welcoming 25 new U.S. citizens at a special naturalization ceremony held at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine.

Deputy Secretary Mike Connor speaking at a naturalization ceremony at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine in Maryland. Photo by Interior.
On August 25, the actual 100th birthday of the National Park Service, 450 individuals across the United States took the Oath of Allegiance and became America’s newest citizens. Along with their family and friends, these 450 Americans celebrated their special day at several different National Park Service sites, including Fort McHenry (where I had the pleasure to congratulate everyone in person), Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, Big Thicket National Preserve, and Biscayne National Park.

Since 2006, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and National Park Service have partnered to welcome thousands of new citizens in parks around the country and celebrate their new status in our country’s beautiful landmarks. In this National Park Service Centennial year, USCIS and NPS will host at least 100 ceremonies in parks to recognize the importance of these locations to our newest Americans.

Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona has hosted several naturalization ceremonies. Photo by Michael Quinn, National Park Service.
These ceremonies have brought America’s next generation of immigrants to the natural, historical and cultural treasures that tell the American story. The diversity of the parks extend from iconic wonders like Everglades National Park, Mount Rushmore National Memorial and Crater Lake National Park, to significant landmarks such as Faneuil Hall in Boston National Historical Park, Ellis Island, and Women’s Rights National Historical Park.

National parks began with the idea that America’s greatest natural treasures belong to everyone and forever need to be preserved.

America’s great outdoors are all-encompassing: from deep blue lakes and jagged mountain peaks to hearty grasslands and arid deserts. The American people are just as diverse, bringing unique experiences to these unique places. Our newest citizens add to that diversity and carry with them their own stories as they explore these places.