First State National Historical Park Hosts Naturalization Ceremony at New Castle Court House Museum
During an intimate ceremony at the New Castle Court House Museum, 20 people from 12 different countries became United States citizens. The ceremony took place at one of the First State National Historical Park’s six sites, and was hosted in partnership with the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, the United States District Court and the United States Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS). Members from the City of New Castle, the State of Delaware’s Department of Elections and the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution were also in attendance.
The New Castle Court House Museum is owned and operated by the Delaware Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs (HCA), and is part of the First State National Historic Park. Built in 1732, it served as Delaware’s first courthouse and legislative building, where members of government met to discuss, write and vote on the state’s early laws. It was here in 1776 that officials from New Castle, Kent and Sussex counties — then part of Pennsylvania — declared their independence from both the larger colony and England, creating the state of Delaware, the first state in the newly formed Union.
The Honorable Judge Richard G. Andrews presided over the naturalization ceremony, which granted citizenship to immigrants from Cameroon, Canada, People’s Republic of China, Dominican Republic, India, Liberia, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Peru, Philippines and Sri Lanka. Attendees joined seasonal National Park ranger Thomas Vinci in singing the national anthem, followed by presentations from several keynote speakers, one of whom became a naturalized citizen in 2021; another gained their citizenship in that day’s ceremony. Both speakers shared deeply personal stories of the sacrifices they made in leaving their birth countries, and expressed that their journeys toward U.S. citizenship were long but incredibly worthwhile.
First State National Historic Park Superintendent Joshua Boles closed his ceremony remarks with:
“Today, in taking the Oath of Allegiance, you pledge your allegiance not only to the United States, but also to the enduring ideals that have defined this nation from its inception. You become a part of a proud lineage of individuals who have contributed to the growth and prosperity of this country. Your diverse backgrounds, talents, and experiences will enrich our nation. In becoming citizens of the United States in this place, you not only honor the legacy of Delaware’s founders, but also renew our nation’s commitment to the principles of liberty and justice for all. Remember that you are now part of a great American story, one that you will help write and one that continues to evolve with each new citizen.”
After the ceremony, the new citizens and their loved ones celebrated by taking photos in the historic courtroom and enjoying refreshments provided by the Daughters of the American Revolution. The Department of Elections assisted them in registering to vote, ensuring that their voices are heard in choosing their future legislators.
This event was made possible with collaboration between the National Park Service and USCIS, a partnership that organizes citizenship ceremonies to introduce new American citizens to some of the nation’s most spectacular and picturesque historic sites. HCA hopes to continue working with its new partners to provide venues for additional naturalization ceremonies, and to create future opportunities for individuals to spend their first moments as U.S. citizens at sites significant to local and national history.