Celebrating American Citizenship

Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein naturalized as an American citizen

What does the president’s cabinet do? What is the name of the current Vice President? Who was president during both the Great Depression and World War II? Have any of these questions got you stumped? These are the type of questions non-citizens must answer to become a citizen of the United States.

One more question. Do you know what happened on September 17th, 1787? The founders signed the United States Constitution. Each year on September 17th, Americans celebrate Constitution and Citizenship Day. It is a day to recognize all of the citizens of the United States of America.

Many people are born as United States citizens. Others become naturalized citizens. Naturalized citizens must go through a process established by Congress to become citizens. Before someone is eligible for naturalization, they must live in the United States for five years. If they are married to an American citizen, they only need to live in the United States for three years. People who serve in the military may become citizens more quickly.

Once someone is eligible for naturalization, they must apply for citizenship. Then they must pass a background check and an interview, along with that written test. Finally, naturalized citizens swear an oath of allegiance to the United States before a judge.

Scientist Albert Einstein, actor and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and actress Salma Hayek all became citizens through naturalization.

What Do You Think? Why do you think it is important to celebrate citizenship?

Photo Credit: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division [LC-DIG-ppmsca-05649]