It was a powerful Independence Day image that's become an appropriate perennial fixture atop the Region's foundation of diversity.
On July 4, we welcomed about 50 new U.S. citizens into our nation's fold in a naturalization ceremony at Hammond's Wolf Lake Pavilion.
The event has become an annual and fitting tradition in that location, in the heart of a Region built by immigrants.
Beyond the perfect match the ceremony strikes with our regional and national DNA, it also symbolized the welcoming community Northwest Indiana both is and ought to continue striving to be.
We've heard plenty of fiery immigration rhetoric in recent years coming from all ends of the political spectrum. Much of it has been inflammatory, rather than laced with the diversity and unity our nation should strive to emulate.
On Tuesday, Woo Yang, a native of South Korea who has been living in our nation for 25 years, finally took his long-desired oath of citizenship.
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Kalid Javed, who lives in Griffith and attends University of Illinois at Chicago, became a citizen after living in the United States for six years.
Their faces, stories and sincerity of purpose are examples of all our nation still has to offer — of the hope it still holds for so many who begin their lives in other nations.
It's up to all of us — new and longtime citizens alike — to continue building the type of Region and nation living up to these welcoming ideals.
We live in an era in which international caution is increasingly important. But we can't forget the nation-building role of welcoming warmth and outstretched arms.
Those qualities are far too important to who we are as a Region and nation.