On Friday, Feb. 24, the United States District Court conducted a naturalization ceremony for the first time on the Maryville College campus.
Magistrate judge Bruce Guyton, who presided over the ceremony, chose Blount County for the destination of the historic ceremony.
Guyton made the selection of the 1,200 seat Ronald and Lynda Nutt Theatre in the Clayton Center for the Arts due to the number of applicants for American citizenship.
According to Guyton, the federal courtrooms were unable to accommodate both the applicants and the public wishing to witness their loved ones declared citizens.
The event began when Guyton called the ceremony to order and read the historic words of naturalization, declaring the excited group of foreigners true U.S. citizens.
U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander was the first to address the newly naturalized citizens.
He delivered a moving speech in which he praised the new members of the country’s persistence to become citizens. He also praised the area of Blount County and assured the new citizens of the area’s benefits.
The MC concert choir, under the direction of Stacey Wilner, performed three songs throughout the ceremony, including “Shenandoah,” “Star Bangled Banner” and “For Spacious Skies.”
When the ceremony proceedings were complete, the new citizens walked across the Nutt stage to receive their official citizenship papers and shake the hands of Guyton and Alexander.
MC president Dr. Tom Bogart also offered his congratulations to the new citizens and whole-heartedly welcomed both them and the public to the Clayton Center.
After the ceremony, the new citizens and their families gathered in the Clayton Center lobby for a celebratory reception.
Dean of students Vandy Kemp was there to assist in helping the new citizens register to vote.
In total, 165 individuals from 61 different countries became a part of the United States.