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U.S. Immigration & Naturalization Service Ceremony to Honor New Citizens

Carol M. Browner

Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency U.S. Immigration & Naturalization Service Ceremony to Honor New Citizens

                         Washington, D.C.

                      Prepared for Delivery
                         March 17, 1996

It is an honor to be here today and to join such distinguished speakers in welcoming Irish-Americans as new citizens of the United States.

To all of you, and to your families, let me offer my warm congratulations on this very special day. By choosing to become citizens of this great nation, you take your place in a magnificent tradition of Irish immigrants who have brought so much to these shores.

From the White House, which was designed by an Irishman, to the houses built by Irish muscle, where ordinary people raise their children -- our cities and towns, our mines, our mills, our railroads, and our schools have been built and sustained by Irish hard work, Irish persistence, Irish vitality.

But the Irish coming over from the old country have always brought something else to these shores, too. We have brought a fierce devotion to community. We have brought a deep and abiding sense of what it means to be more than a mere individual -- to be part of a family, a community, a city, a state, a country -- what it means to look beyond the individual to the greater good, the larger purpose. From the earliest days, actively participating in community life and politics has been a hallmark of Irish-American life.

And that activism, that involvement, that devotion to community has shaped this nation and helped build the great democracy we enjoy today.

The job of building our democracy is not over. As President Franklin Roosevelt said, "Democracy is not a static thing. It is an everlasting march."

As each one of you takes your place among the citizens of this country, I would ask you to resolve to be part of making the choices that face this nation. Don't leave those decisions to others.

Make yourself heard. Make a difference. Dare to act. Be part of the community that is this land and this nation. To keep our democracy strong, we need the active participation of all our citizens.

Today, as we renew our commitment to democracy, let us also renew our commitment to peace in Northern Ireland. As President Clinton has said, the people of Northern Ireland have chosen peace. We must not allow the future of the children of Northern Ireland to be hijacked by violence. President Clinton and this Administration have worked to bring together people on all sides of the conflict, and we will continue to work to achieve a lasting peace.

Again, my congratulations.