There’s no better place to celebrate Independence Day than Monticello! Watch as we mark the 248th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence and welcome more than 70 new citizens at our 62nd annual Independence Day Celebration and Naturalization Ceremony.

Misty Copeland, ballerina, author, and philanthropist, delivered the keynote address. (Her remarks begin at 24:25.)

Good morning and welcome! Today, we gather to 
celebrate a momentous occasion in your lives. This room 
is filled with hope, determination, and the promise of new 
beginnings. It is an honor to stand before you as you take 
this important step toward becoming
citizens of the United 
States of America.

As I stand here at Monticello, the historic home of Thomas 
Jefferson, I am deeply humbled by the significance of this 
moment. Jefferson, a Founding Father, authored the 
Declaration of Independence, a document that
the principles of freedom and equality. These ideals have 
guided our nation for centuries, shaping the society we live 
in today. Monticello is not just a historical landmark but a 
symbol of the American journey
a journey towards 
liberty, justice
, and the pursuit of happiness for all.

Today, as we welcome new citizens, we continue to strive 
for Jefferson's vision of a nation where everyone has the 
opportunity to thrive. This place, with its rich history and 
profound legacy, reminds us of the endur
ing promise of 
America. It is particularly meaningful for me, as an African 
American woman and the first African American principal 
dancer at the American Ballet Theatre, to stand here as a 
testament to the progress we have made and the work 
that still lie
s ahead.

My journey to this stage has been marked by 
perseverance and passion, much like your journeys to this 
ceremony. My story, like yours, is a testament to the 
possibilities that arise when hard work meets opportunity. I 
stand on the shoulders of thos
e who came before me, who 

fought tirelessly for equality and broke barriers so that 
future generations could dream bigger and reach higher. 
Monticello, too, stands as a reminder of the complex 
history of our nation
one that includes both great 
and profound struggles.

In my life and career, I have often drawn strength from the 
stories of those who overcame incredible odds. As a 
young girl, I faced numerous challenges, but I never lost 
sight of my dream. It was the unwavering belief in my 
al, supported by mentors and a community that 
believed in me, that allowed me to succeed. Similarly, your 
journeys to citizenship are stories of resilience, 
determination, and hope. Each of you has faced your own 
unique challenges and made sacrifices to be
here today.

Our country is a beautiful tapestry, woven from the threads 
of diverse backgrounds, cultures, and stories. Each of you 
brings a unique thread, adding richness and vibrancy to 
the American story. Your decision to become citizens 
signifies your 
commitment to this shared journey, to 
contributing your talents, your values, and your dreams to 
the collective future we are building together.

In this room, we transcend political lines and unite in the 
shared values that define us as Americans: liberty,
equality, and the pursuit of happiness. These values are 
not bound by party or ideology but are the foundation upon 
which our nation stands. Your presence here today is a 
testament to the enduring spirit of these ideals.

You are joining a nation that thri
ves on the contributions of 
its people. From the arts to sciences, from 
entrepreneurship to public service, it is your innovation, 
your creativity, and your dedication that will shape the 
future of America. Your journey, your sacrifices, and your 
hard work
enrich the fabric of our society.

I encourage you to embrace the opportunities and 
responsibilities that come with your new citizenship. 
Engage in your communities, exercise your right to vote, 
and lend your voice to the conversations that shape our 
racy. Celebrate your heritage while embracing the 
shared identity of being an American. In this balance, you 
will find strength and purpose.

Today, as you take the oath of citizenship, remember that 
you are not just pledging allegiance to a flag or a natio
but to a set of ideals that unite us all. You are becoming 
part of a legacy of individuals who have sought freedom, 
opportunity, and a better life. You are the embodiment of 
the American dream.

In closing, I want to leave you with a message of hope and 
inspiration. Just as a dancer transforms dedication and 
passion into art, so too can you transform your dreams 
into reality. Your journey does not end here; it begins 
anew. And with every step, you contribute to the rhythm 
and harmony of this incredible na

Congratulations to each and every one of you. Welcome 
to the American family. Together, we will continue to build 
a brighter, more inclusive, and more prosperous future.


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