Remarks as prepared for delivery
It is a great privilege for me to be here today not only to welcome you to the University of Kansas, but to be among the first to congratulate you on becoming citizens of the United States of America.
KU is an international research university devoted to the study of our world. We are pleased to have students and faculty members from 100 nations come to KU to learn, conduct research and contribute to our world. Their diversity of experiences and backgrounds helps enrich our campus and leads to new discoveries and new ideas.
Many of our international students return to their home countries when their studies are over, though we hope they always consider Lawrence a second home. And we are particularly pleased when they choose to make the commitment you have made by becoming citizens.
As you could tell us better than anyone the process of becoming a citizen is difficult and it can take time. In part, that's because the rights of citizenship have been hard won.
Sometimes it took the force of arms – on battlefields overseas, or on hallowed ground here at home.
Sometimes it took the force of will – at marches, protests and sit-ins.
But no matter how they were won, those rights are too often taken for granted by those who are born with them. Today you remind us of what a precious gift citizenship is, and you honor us with your commitment to become citizens of the United States.
I wish more Americans could have the opportunity to attend a ceremony such as this one, as it is hard to not appreciate the rights of citizenship when in the presence of individuals who have done so much to earn those rights.
As you know, citizenship does not end with the oath – it only begins. Because along with the rights of citizenship come responsibilities. The duty to serve on a jury. The duty to vote. The duty to be active participants in our democracy.
Fostering civil engagement is one of the missions of our university, and of the Dole Institute of Politics. We're here today at an institute that honors the public service of Senator Bob Dole – service that took place overseas and here at home.
This center is committed to continuing that service and dedicated to helping Americans uphold the responsibilities of citizenship, just as he did.