I pray we all would understand what it means to be an American as well as this new citizen does.

Last year I had the privilege of witnessing the ceremony for new American citizens and hearing one new citizen, Ed Camargo, owner of StoneArtMasterpieces.com explain what it meant to him.  Below is the speech he gave (printed with permission).  I think we all can learn a lot about what it means to be free from this text.

I am honored to be here today and also by the invitation to address you, The New American Citizens. Thank you Judge, for the introduction. I would like to say that it is a privilege and an honor to be here today and to be able to speak to you about what it means to be an American citizen.

The fact that I am also an immigrant to the United States, and went through the same process that you are now finalizing, and my life experience, allows me to understand and relate to you. Today we celebrate this achievement. Welcome to the land of the Free and the home of the Brave.

America my friends, is a Capitalist nation and we welcome your Human Capital which is: your knowledge, your unique skills, your diversity, and your culture will enrich our way of life, all of you have something different to contribute to America.

This wonderful country called America has been the greatest model of Liberty, the greatest spreader of freedom and the greatest preserver of Liberty that the world has ever known.

We love our freedom so much that The president John F. Kennedy famously expressed this believe in his inaugural address in 1961 proclaiming: “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of Liberty.”

Here in the United States of America, you are going to be able to achieve and accomplish all the things that you never could. The dreams that you had when you were young, and were impossible to achieve, now they can become a reality, now there is no limit on how far you can go, because now you are an American.

Look at me. I am standing behind a podium in front of a room giving my first speech. I was able to start my own business and prosper with my ideas and the strength of my muscles and the dexterity of my mind.

My family was originally from Italy and after the Second World War, they immigrated to Brazil.  I grew up in Brazil and graduated college with a civil engineering degree.  I worked while I also studied and I learned a lot about the business world.  I decided that English would be an important tool so I came to the United States to study.  I ended up meeting my wife and becoming a citizen over 20 years ago.

Today, I am the proud owner of Stone Art Masterpieces.  I design and create luxury mosaic tables and floors from natural stones.  I had an idea and I worked at some other jobs until I had saved enough money to open my own business.  I was able to do the research and got the ideas of what the market needed and was able to fulfill that segment.

America my friends is the land of the entrepreneur and it is the place that welcomes new ideas.    It is through very hard work that you can accomplish your wishes. Here in America you can set a goal to be anything that you want to be, and if you put a lot of dedication, inspiration, commitment and have a good attitude towards your purpose in life, the chances are that you will accomplish your dreams.

Everything that is really inspiring is created by the individual that can work and leave in freedom.

We are a special people, because we have been united not by a common race or ethnicity. We are bound together by common values.  Today you are facing a new beginning in your life, and the story of those that came before you remind us that America has always been about new beginnings. America is the story of everyday people who did extraordinary things. We are a people that continue choosing the principles written down by our founding fathers, to solve the challenges of our time, and as long as we continue living by those principles specified in the Declaration of Independence, this miracle of freedom that is the United States will go on for another generation to inherit.

Please keep these words close to your heart —all men are created equal, that we are endowed by our creator with unalienable rights such as: Life, Liberty, the pursuit of Happiness, and Property that is the fruits of our labor. This cannot be said often enough. Everything important flows from these words.  These words are the foundation for people determined to govern themselves.

In America we have three very important documents: The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, and you should get yourselves acquainted with all three. All the words in these documents say what they mean and mean what they say.

I would also like to repeat the words of a past great American president: Abraham Lincoln, he said: “America is the best hope of earth”. It was true over 100 years ago and it is true today.

The United States of America, this country is the only country in history born, not of a chance or a blind tribal warfare. This country was founded as a rational product of man`s mind.

In the year when I first came to America as a student, it was in 1984, and my other favorite American president was in power and I will never forget his words about Liberty. Ronald Reagan said: that your freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We did not pass it to our children in the bloodstream. We must fight to preserve our freedom, we must protect our freedom and hand it on to our children so they can do the same, or if we continue taking it for granted one day we will find ourselves spending our sunset years, telling our children and our children`s children, what it was once like in the United states where men were free.

One last thing that you need to know is that now that you are an American citizen, you have the privilege to vote in the elections, and you need to register to vote.

In the United States we have two major political parties and a few smaller parties.

Therefore you will need to understand what they represent, and decide where you belong.

Use wisely your power of choice. Being an American is not just a blessing, it is also a responsibility.

Thank you for this opportunity and good luck to you all.