University celebrates Constitution Day with naturalization ceremony
By JOUR 3020 classes
Special to Sidelines
This year, Constitution Day was celebrated in a whole new way
On the day the U.S. Constitution turned 225, almost 300 people became citizens at Middle Tennessee State University’s first ever naturalization ceremony at the Murphy Center.
Members of 69 different nationalities swore allegiance to the United States Monday afternoon as federal court relocated from Nashville to MTSU. Unlike federal court, a faculty brass quintet majestically performed American composers like John Philip Sousa and Scott Joplin.
“This ceremony embodies everything that is great about both our country and the Constitution,” said Lt. Col. Russell Rector. “We live in a land under a law founded by the people, all of whom were immigrants in one way or another.”Rector supervised four students from Oakland High School, who carried the colors opening the naturalization ceremony at 2:20 p.m. Veteran opera singer Dina Cancryn, an associate professor in the School of Music, offered her first public performance of the “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
“[The Constitution is] what binds us all because we are all so different…the Constitution is one thing that unites all of us,” Cancryn said.
Applicants stood to recite the naturalization oath, and then Chief Justice Gary R. Wade led the Pledge of Allegiance. Afterward, he described the history of Constitution Day.
After brief remarks by Magistrate Judge Joe B. Brown, the court adjourned while new citizens shook hands with the two officials at the ceremony. Brown and Wade welcomed everyone, and later stood side-by-side shaking the hands of the new citizens. The audience of family and friends welcomed the new citizens with a warm applause.
Following Judge Brown’s remarks, the color guard filed out of the Center as the federal court was adjourned for the passing out of the certificates of citizenship.
Murphy Center’s director Darrell Towe called this a “definite feather in the cap of MTSU,” but also “another day at the office.”
As an exception to MTSU policy of taking care of its own security, today’s ceremonies were a different story. U.S. Marshall Capt. Tommy Thompson and the MTSU campus police united to provide security for the federal court. Thomson said U.S. Marshals provide protection for federal judges, including the federal judge during the ceremony. The U.S. Marshals can be described as the sheriff’s office for the federal government.
The day started at 9 a.m., with the Constitution being read at the College of Business outdoor atrium. Rain forced the dozen readers inside.
“I may not know all the details, but protection– that’s what it means to me,” said spectator Mark Couch. “It’s exciting to read it because most people haven’t read it.”
The final reading took place at the Murphy Center. Some readers read multiple times. Readings took place all over the campus from the Mass Communication building to Peck Plaza.
For Mary Evins, the history professor who has coordinated Constitution readings for the last three years, Constitution Day is not just an annual event.
“It needs to be every day of the year, every class,” Evins said.
Jordan Powell, Courtney Noble, Chris Marrano and Ricky Fuquay contributed to this story.
Photo Credit: Darby Campbell