On the eve of Independence Day, a one-room schoolhouse full of families celebrated America as 12 children from eight countries were formally presented proof of their citizenship.
The children immediately became citizens through their parents' naturalization or through adoption, and they gathered at the Old Sacramento Schoolhouse Museum on Wednesday morning to receive certificates of citizenship.
"This is something for them to remember, and it's cool to have the opportunity to be here," said Douglas Williams, father of Rodrickson Williams, 7, and Christelle Williams, 8, who received their certificates at the ceremony. The two children were adopted from Haiti, and this ceremony marked the end of their adoption process.
The ceremony, presented by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, was brief but filled with patriotism. The children, ranging from 6 to 13 years old, took an oath to the country, pledged their allegiance and sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" before receiving their certificates and a few goodies provided by the Schoolhouse Museum.
Kelsey Johnson, deputy county counsel for Sacramento County, asked the children how they would be celebrating the Fourth of July.
"We're going to have fireworks," said Rodrickson Williams. "And friends are going to come over."
Johnson explained that these activities are meant to celebrate America and the birthday of the United States, but now they are also a celebration of the children's citizenship.
"Today is a birthday of you becoming a citizen of the United States," Johnson said. "You're going to have your own decisions to make about what kind of citizen you want to be."
Each child was called to the front of the schoolhouse then hurried back to the family with a large envelope, red, white and blue leis, patriotic masks and a small American flag. They pulled certificates out and read them with parents and siblings.
The documents serve as a primary form of identification, much like a birth certificate. Families were reminded to take good care of them, because they can take $400 and six months to replace.
"We like to do this right around the Fourth of July because it makes it more festive and meaningful to families and to the kids," said Sharon Rummery, public affairs officer for the Citizenship and Immigration Service. "The Schoolhouse Museum gives you a feel for American history and the kids who are about to become part of American history can make their own niche."
Call The Bee's Morgan Searles, (916) 321-1102. Follow her in Twitter @morgansearles.