Melania Trump 'Relates' to Moving Citizenship Ceremony
Former first lady's appearance reminds scholar of the sometimes complicated paths of presidential spouses.
Former First Lady Melania Trump’s appearance last week at a National Archives naturalization ceremony was a reminder that America’s sitting and post-White House first ladies have a sphere of influence unique to the position.
Trump congratulated 25 newly naturalized citizens during the ceremony and spoke about her own “arduous” path to citizenship. Born in Slovenia, the former first lady became a United States citizen in 2006. She is also recognized as the first, first lady who is a naturalized citizen, according to a spokesperson at the National Archives. Mrs. Trump was invited to participate in the ceremony in “her capacity as a former first lady,” according to the National Archives.
A day after the appearance, Trump stated on her social media that “she was honored to receive the invitation” and that she could “personally relate to the wave of emotions experienced by the individuals and their families.”
The ceremony was part of the National Archives’ annual celebration of Bill of Rights Day. It was held in the historic National Archives Rotunda, and celebrated people from 25 nations sworn in as new U.S. citizens in front of the Constitution and the nation’s other founding documents.
Nancy Kegan Smith, co-author of the upcoming book Remember the First Ladies: The Legacies of America’s History-Making Women and retired director of the Presidential Materials Division of the National Archives and Records Administration, attended the ceremony and described it as “very moving.”
“This was certainly one of the most personal speeches I’ve seen her give,” Smith says. “She is a very private person.”
In Mrs. Trump’s speech, she spoke of the support from her parents and when she arrived in New York City while pursuing her career as a fashion model, she knew she wanted to make this country her home.
“For me, reaching the milestone of American citizenship marked the sunrise of certainty,” Trump says, adding that she felt a tremendous sense of pride and belonging after reciting the Oath of Allegiance.
She noted the patience and perseverance in the citizenship process is constant while also acknowledging the complex legal language and paperwork involved.
Some reports questioned the former first lady’s presence at the ceremony in light of her husband Donald Trump, the 45th president of the United States, being accused of mishandling classified documents that the National Archives tried for months to retrieve. A National Archives spokesperson told East Wing Magazine in an email that “naturalization ceremonies are not political events, and speakers are not invited in a political capacity.”
Smith noted that the ceremony may have been something that was just important to Trump, but acknowledged the current “complicated” times alongside the sometimes complicated paths of the spouses of American presidents.
And with that, Smith echoed a well-suited Lady Bird Johnson quip: “The first lady is and always has been, an unpaid public servant elected by one person, her husband.”
Dec. 20 and 22, 2023
Holiday Tea at the George W. Bush Presidential Museum
Come experience the magic of the holidays at a casual afternoon tea service in the Ceremonial Courtyard. The Holiday Tea experience includes admission to the Bush Museum to explore both our permanent and special exhibit, Freedom Matters. Read more
New Book Discussion
Edith Wilson, Untold Power: The Fascinating Rise and Complex Legacy of First Lady Edith Wilson
The First Ladies Association of Research and Education presents a discussion with author Rebecca Roberts on her new biography of Edith Bolling Galt Wilson, second wife of Woodrow Wilson (the 28th president of the United States). The discussion is led by author Heath Hardage Lee, biographer of First Lady Pat Nixon. The two writers discuss Edith’s courtship in the spotlight with the widowed President Wilson, Edith’s personal take on the role of first lady, her anti-suffrage views, and her life both in and out of the White House. Roberts reveals the secrets of Edith’s life both public and private during the conversation. View on Facebook or on YouTube
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Framed White House Christmas Cards
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Dec. 21, 2023
Third Thursdays Night Out with Jackie Kennedy - Private Curator-Led Tour
The National First Ladies Library and Museum invites visitors to “Get to Know the Real Jackie O” with this behind-the-scenes private tour led by their curator of the exhibition Beyond Camelot: The Life and Legacy of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Light appetizers and drinks are included. Read more
Now through Dec. 31, 2023
Apply for the Washington Library’s Fellowship Program
The Washington Library is accepting applications for its 2024-2025 research fellowship program now through Dec. 31, 2023. Research fellows can spend one, three, or six months as a research fellow at the George Washington Library, located at George Washington’s Mount Vernon in Virginia. Funded research opportunities are available to people researching the early American period. Read more
On exhibit through April 27, 2024
Beyond Camelot: The Life and Legacy of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
Visitors to the National First Ladies Library and Museum in Canton, Ohio, can explore a replica of former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy’s wedding gown designed by Anne Lowe and other never-before-seen artifacts donated by Monte Durham of Say Yes to the Dress Atlanta. The free exhibition runs through April 27, 2024 and is open to the public. Read more
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