Recently, John K. Fiorillo, a shareholder at Unruh Turner Burke and Frees, was given the privilege of addressing new citizens at the Chester County, Pennsylvania naturalization ceremony. A copy of those remarks are below.
Chester County Courthouse, West Chester Pennsylvania
March 16, 2018
Remarks by John K. Fiorillo
Good morning. President Judge Cody, Honorable Judges of the Court of Common Pleas, distinguished guests, families and friends, and to our new “fellow Americans”– — our new citizens, welcome and congratulations!
My name is John Fiorillo. I am an officer of the Chester County Bar Association and it is a tremendous honor for me to join you this morning to celebrate this very, very special day. Indeed, as I look out at you I could not be more happy to address you with those words : “my fellow Americans”: and to be one of the first to address you in that manner.
Our Constitution begins, “We the people.” Those three words embody the significance of today for you. Our government’s power is limited by “we the people.” We are a government of and for the people.
I commend you for going through this process and deciding to become a citizen, and being an important part of our living history as this country continues to evolve and grow. You are an American by choice not by accident of birth.
If my counting is correct, there are 46 of you here today from 36 different countries. Each of you has your own story, undergone sacrifices to come to America to seek for yourselves the promises guaranteed to all citizens by our constitution, the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.
We are known as a country of immigrants, with the vast majority tracing their ancestry to other countries. Our country’s diversity has resulted in a national tapestry where the differing backgrounds woven into our culture has made us stronger and imbued us with an enduring vitality. While we celebrate the differing cultural heritage that we each bring, we all share the common value of freedom and equality.
It is in this freedom that reveals that our diversity is not only ethnic but, as I am sure you have noticed, also in ideas and philosophies. No doubt that our democracy, at times, can be messy. However, it is through this messy process and the challenges posed that we evolve and become even better. Our country may not be perfect, and as our history has shown, on occasion we have strayed from the principles stated in the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights. However, it is because of the people, “we the people”, lifting our voices, that we have been able to and will continue to be able to get back on track in pursuit of a society that pursues those ideals. You, my fellow Americans, will add your voices to that chorus and help ensure that we remember and adhere to those guiding principles.
With your new and treasured status as a citizen of this great country comes responsibility. I urge you to actively participate in the democracy and public life. What does that mean? It means you should:
• Vote. Don’t let anyone ever tell you that your vote doesn’t count. It is critical in selecting our leaders and lawmakers and in Pennsylvania, our Judges.
• When called to jury duty, answer the call. Your participation in our justice system is integral and invaluable in the resolution of disputes among citizens as well as dispensing justice when there are allegations of a crime.
• Exercise your right to freedom of speech. Express your opinion. It matters.
• Actively participate in making your local communities better.
It is through this collective effort of which you are now an integral part, that our country will prosper.
In conclusion, I am delighted to be here with you today not because it gets me out of the office, but this ceremony and watching you take the oaths reminds me of the simple truth of how lucky I am to be a citizen of this great nation. America remains the land of opportunity and the greatest nation on earth. Do not let anyone tell you differently.
Again, congratulations. You have earned our respect, our gratitude and this tremendous privilege of citizenship. Thank you.