Marianne Banks: A momentous and memorable photograph

New U.S. citizens raise their right hand as they take the oath to become official citizens of their new country during a naturalization ceremony at the Hampshire County Courthouse in Northampton on July 4.

New U.S. citizens raise their right hand as they take the oath to become official citizens of their new country during a naturalization ceremony at the Hampshire County Courthouse in Northampton on July 4. PHOTO BY ALEXANDER MACDOUGALL

Published: 07-09-2024 3:00 PM

Modified: 07-10-2024 8:32 PM


Occasionally there’s a photo in the Gazette that captures something really momentous. Last week there was a photo of the July 4 swearing-in of our newest American citizens [“‘Like a dream come true,’” Gazette, July 5]. Mere days earlier, certain rogue members of the Supreme Court had taken the exit ramp down to the Christian nationalist highway and ruled that the president had immunity from criminal prosecution for official acts, paving the way for a Putin-esque type of presidency.

I joined many other people in feeling our Independence Day was a little too ironic to enjoy the festivities of the day. Then, the following morning, I saw the photograph. It isn’t easy to become an American citizen. But these folks learned our history and our three-pronged system of government. Surely they knew about the unsettling Supreme Court ruling and still they elected to take the oath and become our newest citizens.

Some of these folks, no doubt, came from countries that have never known a democratic form of governance and others where democracies had crashed and burned into civil unrest and genocidal civil wars, and still they decided to take a chance on the USA not losing its way.

I come from immigrants many generations ago, the reasons for their immigration lost to the mists of time. That newspaper photograph and article couldn’t capture the complete story about what brought them here. I think it is brave of them. People rarely leave their country of origin because things are wonderful. They leave because something is wrong and they think they can do better elsewhere.

After that court ruling, some of my friends were wondering about leaving the United States before it got too bad, while getting out was still possible. Yet, there was this photo of people wanting to get in. Working hard to get in. Hoping to make their lives better and by extension, this country. It was a lesson I needed to be reminded of.

Marianne Banks

Leeds

Article continues after...

Yesterday's Most Read Articles

Elements Massage studio in Hadley abruptly closes after state order
Music in the sky: Summit House Sunset Concert Series returns to its 173-year-old home
Hadley Route 9 project finish expected in spring 2026
Oliveira, Carey demand state probe into conditions at South Hadley nursing home
Inspector promoted to lead Northampton Building Department
Two months into his golf career, Northampton’s Claudio Guerra cards hole-in-one