With his consistent commitment in promoting public service and lifting the value and character of the nation as a whole, the commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in January served as a reminder of the responsibilities that go along with citizenship. The Oath of Allegiance, which immigrants recite when they move through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) naturalization ceremony, echoes the same values King worked so hard to achieve in his lifetime.
A post on the USCIS blog The Beacon states that King’s life is an example of service to others and the highest ideals representative of the United States. And while MLK Day as a federal holiday means a day off for many, the spirit of the observance means a “day on” by devoting time to volunteer efforts.
“When we naturalize new American citizens, we congratulate them on gaining many important rights, such as the right to vote, run for public office, and apply for a passport,” the blog post reads. “However, we also remind them of their responsibilities as U.S. citizens.”
King “dedicated his life to the highest values of human dignity in service to social change, and many people make this holiday a day of service in his honor,” according to The Beacon. For those who are moving toward citizenship, or who are only thinking about citizenship, the emphasis on service is apt.
The Oath of Allegiance, the pledge recited by naturalized citizens, is an oath to support and defend the U.S. Constitution. “The oath is a promise to invest in this country’s future, and we remind new citizens there are many ways, such as volunteerism, public service or other means, that they can make the United States a better place for everyone.”
The Oath of Allegiance, which has led to American citizenship for more than the last 220 years, requires immigrants to renounce any allegiance to foreign governments or entities and to promise to “support and defend the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”