What America’s Newest Citizens Can Teach Us

HOUSTON, TX : Just a few weeks after turning 100 years old, Nigh Van Doan stood in a crowded auditorium in north Houston . Raising his right hand, he repeated the Oath of Allegiance to become a United States citizen. An honor he never thought he would realize.

“I feel wonderful,” Mr. Doan said in Vietnamese with his granddaughter, Mai Mai, acting as his interpreter.

Mr. Doan joined twenty-five hundred others in a Naturalization Ceremony held at the M.O. Camp bell Educational Center. The men and women, born in 125 different countries, persevered through the long naturalization process and now can be called Americans.

This special ceremony culminated a long journey for Mr. Doan. He was born in a small village in North Vietnam . But when communism began strangling his hometown in 1954, he packed up his family and traveled to South Vietnam , hoping for a better life. Mr. Doan’s quest for freedom was not fulfilled for another 40 years, until 1990 when he was granted a visa to move to the United States .

“Mr. Doan is a shining example of determination and hope, showing all of us it is never too late in life to accomplish your dream,” said Texas Secretary of State Roger Williams.

Secretary Williams delivered the keynote address to the crowd gathered at the Naturalization Ceremony. His message was one of honor and appreciation.

“As I spoke with these unique individuals, I realized the important lessons they were teaching all of us about the precious rights, freedoms and responsibilities that come along with American citizenship,” said Secretary Williams.

After finishing the Pledge of Allegiance Mr. Doan simply said “I’m very happy.” He also says he is excited about casting his first ballot in his newly adopted country on November 7th – a right he would not have in his birthplace.

Texas election officials wish all Americans shared Mr. Doan’s enthusiasm about the right to vote. As the Chief Elections Officer, Secretary Williams is encouraging Texans, young and old, native and new, to get energized about the grand patriotic duty of voting.