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Coming to America

Immigration is a hotly contested issue in 2018 with a concerted effort on the part of some to exclude immigrants from these borders. The road to freedom is not an easy one and many have died attempting to obtain the Four Freedoms so eloquently expressed in Norman Rockwell’s paintings.

Happily that long road will come to an end for a group of newly naturalized citizens as they are sworn in Friday, August 10th, when the Norman Rockwell Museum partners with the Berkshire Immigrant Center to host their annual United States Citizenship Naturalization Ceremony.

Now in its seventh year at the museum, the ceremony is for residents of Western Massachusetts who have immigrated to the United States from around the world.

Each year the Berkshire Immigrant Center assists more than 100 residents in their pursuit of U.S. citizenship. To obtain citizenship, one must hold legal permanent resident status for a minimum of five years (three years if married this whole time to a U.S. citizen), take an exam on U.S. history and civics, demonstrate proficiency in the English language and be of “good moral character” among other requirements.

The BIC offers assistance with every aspect of the naturalization process, including screening for eligibility, application support, disability and fee waivers, legal assistance, transportation, advocacy with USCIS and English language, history and civics classes.

The special event, which will be held from 10AM to 1PM, allows members of the community to welcome the nation’s newest citizens.

The event has special significance this year, as it is being held during the 75th anniversary of Norman Rockwell’s Four Freedoms.The ceremony serves as a timely reminder of the themes expressed in Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s 1941 speech, illustrated two years later in Rockwell’s iconic paintings. Four Freedoms war bond posters will serve as a backdrop for event.

For the third year, the ceremony will be presided over by the Hon. Joan M. McMenemy, first justice of Berkshire County Juvenile Court, with remarks by Laurie Norton Moffatt, Rockwell Museum director and CEO, and Brooke Mead, executive director of the Berkshire Immigrant Center.

Priority seating is given to new citizens and their families; museum visitors are welcome to observe the ceremony based on space availability. A reception will follow for new citizens and their families on the museum’s terrace.

The museum is open May through October 10AM. to 5PM daily, until 7PM on August Thursdays. Admission is $20, $18 for seniors, $17 for military veterans, $10 for students and free for children 18 and under.