September/October 2009 issue
"My Mama's Judge"
by Suzanne Morrison, Branch Librarian, Fargo
Witnessing the joy of new citizens as they take
their oath of citizenship, gathering together their
new flags and constitutions, and posing for
pictures with their families, fills every federal
employee with pride.
Judges often state that it is the happiest moment
celebrated in their courtrooms. Recently, a friend
of mine went through the process and shared
with me how different it made her feel. "Now, I
drive down the street and think – that is MY tree,
that is MY fire station, and that is MY flag. I
never thought about it before, but I feel as if I
really belong now."
These words provoked me to think about making
the day even more special. My thoughts centered
on the gift bags and watching the new citizens
sift through their new booty. It struck me that the
court never gives them a gift.
I convinced Magistrate Judge
Karen Klein to use her READ
bookmarks as gifts for new
citizens. She stands in front of
the American flag holding a
book with READ in bold words
across the bottom. On the back,
we put her name, the date of the
ceremony, and a quote about
After the next ceremony, I
overheard one of the citizens
showing the bookmark to her
little girl and telling her, "This is mama's judge."
Since that time, all the judges in North and South
Dakota distribute a READ bookmark with their
picture on it after the ceremony. It is a keepsake
that sends out the message of reading, makes the
new citizens feel special, and allows them to
remember the day. I encourage every judge who
performs Naturalization Ceremonies to contact
your local librarian and request bookmarks.
Remember that you are some very special