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Susan Dromey Heeter photo

Celebrating the citizenship at Strawbery Banke on July 4 of Adekunle Adekoya are his family - wife Titi, son Jason and daughters Janelle and Janice.


A few years ago I was invited to attend the Naturalization Ceremony at Strawbery Banke in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. 

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, shakes hands with Susan Dromey Heeter at the Naturalization Ceremony in Portsmouth Thursday.

Since then, I muse joyfully on how one invite has transformed me into a Naturalization groupie; I go to Strawbery Banke every Fourth of July, witness glorious joy, glorious gratitude and glorious patriotism on a day filled with red, white and blue.

Thursday’s celebration began with the posting of the colors and then the singing of the National Anthem.  We all sang along in the heat; I watched as the VIPs on the stage sang along, too: Senators Jeanne Shaheen, Maggie Hassan, Representatives Christopher Pappas and Governor Chris Sununu.

But the stars of the show were not those on stage, rather, those who took the oath of citizenship, pledged allegiance to the American flag.  I met Aixa Tjiera from the Dominican Republic, in town to support her cousin. I welcomed Phakcheera Lassiter from Thailand, greeted Solace Ntumi, Esse Ntumi and Adase Ntumi of Napal, chatted with Adekunle  of Nigeria.  Families wept, raised flags, hugged their children a little tighter.

Celebrating Fourth of July during the Naturalization Ceremony Thursday at Strawbery Banke in Portsmouth. Susan Dromey Heeter photo

I showed Representative Chris Pappas a picture of my Grandmother Dromey, an immigrant from Cork, Ireland – we both shared our family stories.  And while Grandmother Dromey has long since passed, I like bringing her to events like these, remembering that no one gets to the United States on a winning streak; it tends to be all uphill.

So, I muse joyfully you will one day attend a Naturalization Ceremony – they are not only reminders of our fortune, but a reminder to welcome those. And what better way to celebrate the Fourth of July?  

Muse joyfully this July, muse joyfully on our beautiful country and, again, if you ever have the opportunity to attend a Naturalization Ceremony, do go.
And if you are a child, grandchild or great grandchild of an immigrant? All the more reason…

Susan Dromey Heeter is a writer from Dover who recently let her hair go au natural white. Writing has been her passion since her English majoring days at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.  Dromey Heeter has lived in The Netherlands, Alaska and currently basks in all things New England, including the frigid winters. An avid swimmer, Dromey Heeter’s great passion is to bring back body surfing as most children have no idea how to ride waves without ridiculous boogie boards.

The opinions expressed are those of the writer. InDepthNH.org takes no position on politics, but welcomes diverse opinions. email nancywestnews@gmail.com

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