Former First Lady Melania Trump spoke Friday at a naturalization ceremony held at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., in honor of Bill of Rights Day Dec. 15.
Melania Trump, who was born in Slovenia and is the only first lady who is a naturalized U.S. citizen, spoke to the 25 people from 25 nations being sworn in as U.S. citizens.
“How fortunate to be with the naturalizing individuals and their families as they recite the Oath of Allegiance and become Americans before our great nations founding documents,” she said during the rare public appearance.
She also stressed that becoming a U.S. citizen comes with responsibilities along with rights.
“It means actively participating in the democratic process and guarding our freedom,” she said. “It is a life-altering experience that takes time, determination and sometimes even tremendous strength.”
The new U.S. citizens hailed from Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bolivia, Cameroon, China, El Salvador, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Italy, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, Philippines, Senegal, Serbia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United Kingdom.
The National Archives held the ceremony in the historic National Archives Rotunda, which houses the Constitution and other founding documents, in honor of Bill of Rights Day, which commemorates the ratification of the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution on Dec. 15, 1791.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the holiday in a 1941 proclamation, asking that Dec. 15 be “set apart as a day of mobilization for freedom and for human rights, a day of remembrance of the democratic and peaceful action by which these rights were gained, a day of reassessment of their present meaning and their living worth.”
On Wednesday, the National Archives Building, located in the Federal Triangle near the National Mall, was officially designated as a National Historic Landmark.
It is such an honor to receive the National Historic Landmark designation for the National Archives Building, Archivist of the United States Colleen Shogan said. It is a well-deserved distinction for this extraordinary building that is in its own way a treasure, surpassed only by the priceless documents held within it.
TMX contributed to this article.