On a cold January morning, 67 individuals from around the globe entered the James A. Byrne U.S. Courthouse in Philadelphia for a life-changing event. An hour later they all walked out as American citizens.
The Honorable Mark Kearney ’84 CLAS, ’87 CWSL, United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, presided over the day’s Naturalization Ceremony. As the Oath of Allegiance was administered, immigrants from 30 nations were unified as Americans.
To celebrate the momentous day, Judge Kearney invited Mark C. Alexander, Arthur J. Dean of Villanova Law, and Sharon Lopez, President of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, to share their thoughts on citizenship.
Dean Alexander delivered an impassioned speech about the civic duty of all Americans to work together for the betterment of our nation—an idea he traced back to the Constitution itself. He explained:
As with most Con Law professors, I have a favorite part of the Constitution. Mine comes right in the Preamble—the introduction to the Constitution. It reads:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union….
For me, that last phrase — to form a more perfect union — captures the essence of the American spirit.
It is a hopeful phrase, full of possibility for the nation we would become. Yet it is also one that challenges us, continually pushes us to strive for an even greater society.
It is so remarkable that our Founding Fathers embedded in our Constitution the importance of our people working together. It is a simple, yet profound concept.
In divisive times like these, we must not lose sight of this call to action. We the people—the average citizens—have an obligation to work together to better our nation. Yes, our nation. Mine, and now, yours.
We must engage in productive, substantive debates. We must acknowledge our differences, but also our common ground and common goals. We must face the imperfections of our nation and find ways to affect meaningful change together. It is the only way for our nation to move forward.
Click here to read Dean Alexander’s full remarks.