Realizing the Dream of Citizenship

Immigrants, many of them refugees from a world divided by the Cold War, take the oath of American citizenship in 1955.

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Immigrants giving the oath of citizenship
Safe harbor: Immigrants, many of them refugees from a world divided by the Cold War, take the oath of American citizenship.
Frank Ross

This day they swear to defend the United States against all enemies. At the District Court in Washington, D.C., 141 subjects of 32 foreign nations become Americans. Wladimir the Ukrainian becomes a U.S. citizen named Walter, and Szymon the Pole plain Simon. Feige from Russia will answer to Fannie, and Liu Chia-Len to Bill. Little Dan Vega stands between Air Force Major Carl Vega and his wife, who adopted Dan in Germany and now pledge fealty to his new country on his behalf. It was a roundabout road, but Dan made it — he’s an American kid now. The strength of the United States will ensure the rights of the Constitution to each of these 141 persons. Each owes a new allegiance which he accepts “without purpose of evasion.”

The clerk of the court intones the oath, and a dream comes true.

—“Americans All”
Face of America,
June 4, 1955

This article is featured in the March/April 2017 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives. 

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