Papillion will be the centerpiece for people from all parts of the world on Monday.
Twenty new citizens from several countries will be sworn in during a Naturalization Ceremony at 1:30 p.m. at Sump Memorial Library, 222 N. Jefferson St. The ceremony has been held in front of the Historical Portal School House the past two years, but is being moved indoors this year due to expected high temperatures.
It’s the third year for the ceremony, an idea originated by the Papillion Area Historical Society and one of its members, Ann Saarela.
“In 2017, it was the 230th year of the Constitution,” Saarela said. “I had been to a swearing-in ceremony, but I felt like those people deserved more. So we decided to have a ceremony on Citizenship Day (Sept. 17).”
This year’s group is the largest in the three-year history and they will converge from across the area to officially celebrate becoming citizens.
Judge Susan Bazis a federal magistrate judge for the United States District Court for the District of Nebraska, will be on hand to swear new citizens in and Sarpy County Election Commissioner Michelle Andahl will be there to allow them to register as voters. The ceremony will also include music from Phoenix Stanford, Miss Outstanding Nebraska Teen and colors will be presented by the Papillion-La Vista South High School Junior ROTC.
Bob Olson, a historical society board member, will serve as master of ceremonies and the keynote speaker will be Eugene Curtin, a former Papillion Times staff writer and columnist who himself became a U.S. citizen in 1994.
Saarela said the ceremony is a fitting tribute to these individuals who have worked tirelessly to become a part of the American fabric.
“You can see the pride in their faces,” she said. “It’s really neat to see how happy they are.
“One of the reasons we do it close to Citizens Day is we want them to be able to remember what day it was they became citizens. It’s a special day and it needs to be treated that way.”
Many family members will be on hand to witness the ceremony as well as a handful of people from the community.
“I think it’s good for us to witness this and we want to involve the youth so they can see what this is all about. These people have a love for this country and we want to be part of that. They’re here because they want to be here and they have made the effort to become citizens.”
She also believes swearing them in as citizens by the Historic Portal School makes perfect sense.
“The foundation of America is a one-room school,” she said.