Park Service celebrates 100th birthday with special naturalization ceremony, ‘living emblem’

Forty naturalization candidates originating from 33 countries take the oath of allegiance under the direction of USCIS Director Leon Rodriguez. (Photo courtesy US Citizenship and Immigration Services)
General John M. Paxton, Jr., U.S. Marine Corps was the keynote speaker at the Naturalization Ceremony. "I congratulate all of you for seizing an ideal and for recognizing an opportunity," Paxton said. "I wish you nothing but the best in your days ahead as a fellow American citizen." (Photo courtesy U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services)
Newly naturalized citizen Sandra Hernandez of Centreville, Virginia, is flanked by husband Christian Hernandez and friend Yanira Vijil. "I'm so happy for her. You get a lot of benefits for (citizenship) like the right to vote," Vijil said. (WTOP/Kristi King)
A special naturalization ceremony held at the World War II Memorial Aug. 25 to mark the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service (WTOP/Kristi King)

WASHINGTON  — More than 1,000 people using brown, green and white umbrellas created a giant living version of the National Park Service emblem Thursday. Later, 40 people from 33 different countries took part in a special naturalization ceremony at the World War II memorial.

Both events were held to honor the 100th anniversary of the National Park service.

“National parks belong to all of us,” said NPS Spokeswoman Kathy Kupper. “They’re the most important natural and scenic spaces we have in our country and there’s no better place to welcome our newest citizens and to show them what is now part theirs as new citizens of the United States.”

All told, 16 naturalization ceremonies were held Thursday in parks nationwide. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Sevice’s goal is to hold at least 100 throughout the year to honor the park service anniversary. After Thursday’s ceremonies, it’s held 78.

Also, to mark Thursday’s 100th anniversary — there will be free admission for all visitors into all national parks throughout the weekend.

The Park Service took an aerial photograph of Thursday’s gathering on the mall. The first 1,000 people to arrive received a T-shirt commemorating their participation and were allowed to keep their umbrella.

The park service says its emblem contains elements symbolizing the major facets of the national park system. A Sequoia tree and bison represent vegetation and wildlife, mountains and water represent scenery and recreation, and the arrowhead shape represents history and archaeology.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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