Speeches & Floor Statements

Floor Remarks of U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) Citizenship Almanac

Posted on April 17, 2007

Mr. President, the purpose of that test is to simply give new meaning to what it means to be an American. That oath of allegiance which these 650,000 new citizens will take is basically the same oath that George Washington and his officers took at Valley Forge in 1778. It has a great deal of meaning. Other countries in the world have not had the experience we have had helping people from around the world become Americans. The English, the French, the Japanese, and the Germans are struggling with that right now, as people move in who are not Japanese, German, English, or French. It is hard for them to become part of that national identity. We have not had that problem. We welcome everyone based upon their understanding of the symbols and documents represented in the Citizen’s Almanac. So if we don't teach about these things in our schools or immigrants don’t learn it in the naturalization process, then we are not a united country. As I have said many times on this floor, diversity is a great strength of the United States of America, but it is not our greatest strength. Our greatest strength is that we have been able to take all of this diversity and mold it into one country, not because of race or ethnicity but because of a belief in a few principles and our common language. We are able to say we are proud of where we came from, but we are prouder to be Americans. I salute the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for this document, and the National Endowment for the Humanities for its hard work on it. The Citizen’s Almanac includes the patriotic anthems and symbols of the United States, Presidential and historical speeches from Presidents Lincoln, Washington, Roosevelt, Kennedy and Reagan, and Martin Luther King, Jr., and landmark decisions of the Supreme Court. It ought to be in every Senate office. It will be in every home of every new citizen. It will be a good document to be in every school in America.