Office of the Governor Rick Perry

Gov. Rick Perry's Remarks at the Naturalization Ceremony

*Note - Gov. Perry frequently departs from prepared remarks.
Friday, May 11, 2007  •  Speech

Good afternoon. I am honored to be here to share this day with you and your families and friends. Today marks the culmination of great anticipation. While you’ve called America your home for some time now, today will be your first to officially pledge allegiance to our flag. The procession of our nation’s flag into the auditorium today, carried by our brave servicemen, perfectly represents the call we each have inside each of us, the true inspiration behind why we are here: To be a part of the greatest country in the world. America’s finest fought, and continue to fight, for that which the red, white and blue eternally represents: freedom. This single word, too often forgotten by those who are born into it, brought many of you here today. Your hopes of a life without the fear of religious or political persecution have been answered.

Americans are rooted in idealism, not ethnicity. We are so diverse that no color, creed or origin define us, but instead a set of values. We believe that those who work hard should be rewarded for the fruit of their labor. We believe that the family is the central framework of society, not government. We believe that opportunity should not be dispensed by a government power, but available to anyone with a dream and the fortitude to follow that dream. In this great country, what matters most is not where you come from, but where you are going.

The first Americans set out for this land searching for the promise of unbounded liberty, opportunity and adventure. America is the Promised Land, and the nation of hope. That’s what our country represents to the thousands of immigrants who reach our shores daily. Growing up on a small rural tenant farm in West Texas, my dreams weren’t limited to merely farming the same land as my father, but plowing new ground. What is great about America is that the sons and daughters of migrant workers can one day dream of owning the farm. I was part of the first generation in my family to go to college. After graduation, I flew C-130 tactical airlift in the United States Air Force. That job took me all across the globe and gave me a renewed respect for the unique country we share today.

America is the place where the dreamer and the doer are the same thing, because dreams do come true. Standing here today, I can attest my dreams have come true. Life has taken me on a journey from a tenant farm to the governor’s office of the greatest state in America. I am married to the love of my life, and I have two beautiful, healthy children. Today may represent your own dream coming true. Or maybe it is just the beginning. But, whatever the milestone on your journey, today one thing is for certain: you are among the many millions who have successfully migrated to this country to experience the American Dream.

You’ll find a number of our nation’s most celebrated icons once stood in your place. Bob Hope, one of the most dedicated patriots to our American troops serving overseas, was born in England and became an American citizen when he and his family immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 4. Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez became a U.S. citizen in 2004, and proudly waved the flag as he took the field for his first game as an American citizen. And the governor of the second largest state in the continental United States, Arnold Schwarzenegger, pledged his allegiance to our flag more than 20 years ago. Even the man whose name is synonymous with genius, Albert Einstein, took the oath you’ll recite today. “Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labor in freedom,” he once wrote.

Today, you are re-born an American citizen. From this day on, we will live, and work, and fight for one another, as one nation under God. You will now be part of a nation which cherishes liberty and equality above all things. Whose creed is selflessness, of dedication to country before self. And to this covenant, you bring yourself. Who you are, and what you hold dear. For individuality is what nourishes our country and allows us to grow stronger and more united. We are a nation founded by immigrants. And a nation proud to be Americans. Congratulations to all of you. May God bless you. And may God bless America.

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