Rotary and The Town of Pawling Welcome Fifty New Citizens

Rotary and The Town of Pawling Welcome Fifty New Citizens

By Medina Khalil

Fifty citizens were sworn in on April 14th in the Lathrop Center at Lakeside Park, in a ceremony that was co-sponsored by the Town of Pawling and the Pawling Rotary Club. Months of planning by Rotary event chairs Jeffrey Asher and Medina Khalil, in coordination with the Dutchess County Clerk’s office and the Town of Pawling, resulted in a heartwarming day of pride and appreciation for more than 200 attendees. Rotarians gathered early to welcome the new citizens and their families to an auditorium that had been decorated in red, white, and blue. Additionally, Rotarians set up a children’s room for little ones and their parents who needed a break from all the “grown-up” happenings. Snacks, water, and juice were available, thanks to the generosity of Pawling Hannaford and members of the Pawling Rotary Club.

In attendance and presiding over the ceremony were Bradford H. Kendall, Dutchess County Clerk; Anne-Marie Dignan, Deputy County Clerk; Judge Thomas R. Davis, J.S.C., Dutchess County Supreme Court; Susan Stone, Pawling Rotary President; the Dutchess County Sheriff’s office, represented by Undersheriff Jason Mark; Pawling Town Supervisor, James Schmitt; three legislators from Dutchess County, Edward P. Hauser, Joseph D. Cavaccini, and Tony D’Aquanni; and representatives of U.S. Homeland Security. During the program, the Christ Church Singers and Friends sang the National Anthem and America the Beautiful as members of the audience joined in, voices quietly increasing in volume as the emotions tapped into the celebratory atmosphere of the day.

In his remarks, Judge Davis referenced the importance of becoming citizens by highlighting how our democracy differs from others around the world. He shared that ours is an “active democracy,” one where we have the privilege of participating and supporting our country through voting, jury duty and military service. He noted that citizenship obligations extend further to inhabit the ways in which we all work together to support our neighbors and communities. In their addresses to the assembled, both Undersheriff Mark and Mrs. Stone referenced their personal family histories, in which past family members had left behind bigotry or oppression for the promise of peace and freedom in America.

A group of Pawling High School students, who had been studying U.S. government, led all in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, accompanied by Pawling High School teachers Sharon Pritchard and Joseph DiRubbo, Pawling Schools superintendent Kim Fontana, and Pawling Elementary School assistant principal Michelle Rivas. At the last words of the Pledge, the room erupted in emotion, with applause and shouts of joy heard throughout. As new citizens, friends, and families left the auditorium, smiles were in abundance.

To this writer, this is what it means to be an “active democracy”: to be engaged; to grow and thrive; to live in service to our country and each other. Our country inspires hope for a better life, where hard work, commitment, and participation open the door to opportunity. That hope permeated the day, changing the lives of not only the new citizens, but all in attendance.

Author: Harlem Valley News