Daily Hampshire Gazette – Marianne Banks: A groundbreaking and unforgettable photograph
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Daily Hampshire Gazette – Marianne Banks: A groundbreaking and unforgettable photograph

Daily Hampshire Gazette – Marianne Banks: A groundbreaking and unforgettable photograph

New U.S. citizens raise their right hands as they take the oath to become official citizens of their new country during a naturalization ceremony at the Hampshire County Courthouse in Northampton, July 4.
PHOTO BY ALEXANDER MACDOUGALL


Occasionally, a photo appears in the Gazette that captures something truly momentous. Last week, there was a photo of our new American citizens being sworn in on July 4. A few days earlier, some crooked members of the Supreme Court had taken the exit onto the Christian nationalist superhighway and ruled that the president had immunity from prosecution for official acts, paving the way for a Putin-style presidency.

I joined many others who thought our Independence Day was a bit too ironic to enjoy the festivities of that day. The next morning I saw the photo. It is not easy to become an American citizen. But these people learned about our history and our tripartite system of government. They certainly knew about the disturbing Supreme Court ruling, and yet they chose to take the oath and become our new citizens. Some of these people, no doubt, came from countries that had never known a democratic form of government, and others where democracies had crashed and burned in civil unrest and genocidal civil wars, and yet they chose to take a chance and give the United States a chance to stay on track.

I come from a family of immigrants going back generations, and the reasons for their immigration are lost in the mists of time. That photo and the newspaper article couldn’t tell the whole story of what brought them here. I thought it was brave of them. People don’t often leave their home country because everything is great. They leave because something is wrong and they think they can do better somewhere else. After that court ruling, some of my friends were thinking about leaving the United States before things got too bad, while it was still possible to leave. And yet, it was a picture of people trying to get in. Working hard to get in. Hoping for a better life and, in turn, a better country. That was a lesson I had to remind myself of.

Marianne Banks

Leeds