The New-York Historical Society hosted a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) naturalization ceremony, where 90 people became U.S. citizens, on Wednesday, April 13. The new U.S. citizens originate from 42 countries, including Bangladesh, People’s Republic of China, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ghana, Indonesia, Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, Slovakia, Ukraine, Vietnam, and Yemen, among others.
New-York Historical’s Trustee Andrew H. Tisch provided keynote remarks. You can read his moving speech below:
“118 years ago, my grandfather Avraham Tisienski stood as a young child in a room like this and took the same oath you are about to take. He and his family had come from Dniepro-Petrovsk in the Ukraine, through Odessa on the Crimean Peninsula. Half the family turned left and went to Tashkent in Uzbekistan and the other half, including my grandfather and his sisters and parents came here. They got to Ellis Island where the Immigration Officer mis-spelled their name and it became Tichinski.
And they came here for the same reasons you are here today. For the opportunity to live a better life for themselves and their children and their future generations than they could in their place of birth. Be it economic opportunity, freedom from discrimination, flight from war or pestilence or famine, or love of another person or yearning for democracy, you have all chosen, like my great-grandfather and his family to come to America. And America needed my grandfather’s family like we need you. Because for almost 250 years, we have created more opportunity than we have citizens to take advantage of it.
And let me tell you a little bit about what my grandfather and his family did. They grew up in Brooklyn, before Brooklyn was fashionable again, where he learned English as he went to public school and got a good education. And he played basketball. He went to CCNY, the City College of New York, which is still a wonderful school, where he did well academically and he was captain of their basketball team in 1916 and 1917. Avraham Tichinski’s nickname became Al Tisch because no one could pronounce his birth name and he carried that name, Al Tisch, for the rest of his life.
Al Tisch married my grandmother Sayde whose family had come from Russia two generations earlier. They had two sons and they all worked hard in the garment business and then in the hotel and real estate businesses. Al and Sayde’s sons, my father and uncle, fought in the army in World War II and then went to college earning degrees from NYU, Wharton and Michigan.
My father met my mother after college and they had four sons of which I am the oldest. Together, the family took advantage of the opportunities allowed them by the American dream and created a business that, today, is called Loews Corporation. It is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and employs over 16,000 people in hotels, insurance, oil exploration, pipelines and other investments.
And to finish out our family picture, my wife Ann is an educator and former journalist for NBC News who creates public schools for girls in underserved neighborhoods. We have four children and two grandchildren. She, like me, has similar stories about her ancestors coming to the United States.
My grandfather can count not only his two sons, but 7 grandchildren in my generation, 23 great-grandchildren, and 9 great-great grandchildren and growing. All of us Americans and all of us committed to the American dream of peace and opportunity in a better world.
As I look around this room today, I see many Avraham Tichinskis, many Al Tisches—boys and girls, men and women, from everywhere. And I know how hard your families worked to be here today. And to all of you, I can only say: “Welcome to the United States. We are fortunate to have you here. Congratulations on becoming American citizens.”