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Local vets play role in naturalization ceremony

Members of New Richmond VFW Post 10818 took part in the Certificate of Naturalization Presentation Ceremony at the Mall of America on Saturday, June 14. The event was presented by the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services, St. Paul Field Office. Pictured posting the Colors and singing the National Anthem are (from left) Jerry Simon, Ken House (Post 10818 Quartermaster), David Zwolenski and Grace Savard (ninth-grader from Totino Grace High School). (Submitted photo)

Anyone who visited the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn., June 14-15 would have seen the annual Government on Display Exposition taking place throughout the country’s biggest mall.

As part of the expo, members of New Richmond VFW Post 10818 performed the opening ceremonies for the children’s and adults’ Certificate of Naturalization Presentation Ceremony on Saturday, June 14, in the Mall of America Rotunda. The Post 10818 Ladies Auxiliary also took part in the ceremony, along with some VFW volunteers, to put on their Flag Day presentation using significant U.S. historical characters to teach the children about how the United States flag came to be.

“This is the first time our Post has been at anything like this before in the Twin Cities area,” said VFW Post Commander Lee Meyer. “It was a really good experience for all of us from the VFW and the Ladies Auxiliary. The organizers told us that they would like to have us back next year and I think that would be great.”

According to Meyer, there were 70 children and 70 adults who were given their Certificate of Citizenship during the ceremony.

The Immigration Services St. Paul Field Office first contacted Patriotic Instructor of the VFW Auxiliary Wanda Viellieux back on May 15 about participating in the Naturalization Ceremony. The St. Paul Field Office had heard about the Post 10818’s Flag Day program after one of its representatives saw a Facebook post about the program Post 10818 performed at the New Richmond Middle School earlier in the school year.

“It is a pretty significant thing to get invited to take part in something like this and to be invited back for next year,” Meyer said. “I saw that there was some coverage of the ceremony with us in it on the Channel 4 News at 6 p.m. on Saturday. It was just a great experience for all of us.”

After posting the Colors, the children’s ceremony started off the two-hour event. The Post 10818 and the Ladies Auxiliary then gave its Flag Day presentation, with different members of the Auxiliary and the Post talking about characters they were dressed as, and why they were important to the creation of the American Flag. Following the children’s portion of the ceremony, the Post color guard remained for the formal citizenship ceremony, which was presided over by a federal judge.

“The whole event was a very positive thing for the adults and the children, and they were all very glad to get their certificates after putting so much effort into studying and taking the test,” Meyer said. “I think that is a really good way to introduce the new citizens to what it means to be an American and help them with the different things they need to know about being a citizen.”

The annual Government on Display Exposition at Mall of America is the largest government event ever staged inside an American mall. More than 20 federal and state agencies, including Minnesota’s U.S. Congressional delegation, were represented at the expo. The event also included a naturalization ceremony, where immigrants became U.S. citizens.

Jordan Willi
Jordan Willi is a reporter for the New Richmond News. Previously, he worked as a sports reporter at the Worthington Daily Globe in Worthington, Minnesota. He also interned at the Hudson Star Observer for two summers and contributed to the Bison Illustrated sports magazine at North Dakota State University.
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