When 71 people from 36 different countries stood up to take the Oath of Allegiance at Portland's Hatfield Courthouse on Thursday (June 18), they were welcomed as American citizens not just by the presiding judge, but by Portland's Pink Martini.
The band, invited by Judge Michael Mosman, serenaded the new citizens with songs in various languages, among them a moving rendition of America The Beautiful by China Forbes. Judge Mosman also paid tribute to those gathered, referencing lines from the Emma Lazarus poem mounted inside the Statue of Liberty: "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses."
"I disagree with her description," said Judge Mosman. "In my view we receive the bold, the brave, the adventurous ... we are a better, more interesting country because of you."
The new citizens, who hailed from such far-flung places as Laos, Denmark, Ethiopia, and New Zealand (among other countries), were impressed at the Judge's welcome and his musical accompaniment. Michael Riise from Denmark said he "thought the judge did an outstanding job of explaining the emotional part of the process."
Another new citizen, Deborah Bimstein, posted on Pink Martini's Facebook page: "I was one of the people taking the Oath today and was already extremely proud and excited to become a citizen. Seeing you all there and listening to you sing made it one of the most memorable events of my life. Thank you for making an already wonderful experience even more so."
For his part, Pink Martini's Thomas Lauderdale felt the early morning rise required to attend the ceremony was well rewarded. "This is not my best hour," he admitted. "However, when Judge Mosman starts to speak so eloquently about citizenship, I think 'Of course I'll get up at this hour!' It becomes totally worth it."