New citizens and prez celebrate 4th
Three thousand people showed up at Mr. Jefferson's house today to watch 72 new citizens be sworn in–- and six citizens escorted out. When the first shouts of "Defend the Constitution," "Impeach Bush," and "War criminal" rang out from protesters in the audience and pink-clad Desiree Fairooz ran toward the stage, President George Bush laughed and acknowledged, "To my fellow citizens-to-be, we believe in free speech in the United States."
As the shouts continued during Bush's speech, one angry woman told Code Pinker Gael Murphy, "You need to shut up and sit down."
If someone was blocking the view or if people couldn't hear, a Monticello staff member asked the disruptor to stop, according to Monticello director of communications Wayne Mogielnicki. If the disturbance continued, the protester was escorted out, with the help of Albemarle County police. At one point, Chief John Miller leaned in to quiet a man yelling "Fascist." Mogielnicki did not anticipate charges being pressed. "The county said everyone left voluntarily," he said.
"We wanted to allow people to exercise their First Amendment rights," said county spokeswoman Lee Catlin. "Monticello asked them to leave because that's private property."
Anyone speaking at Monticello inevitably invokes Thomas Jefferson, and Bush was no exception. He noted that the third president made only two public speeches, and he also cited the principles of Jefferson: "All men are created equal with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
"What about the Iraqis?" yelled Murphy, earning another rebuke from a polite Monticello staffer: "Ma'am, if you can't be quiet, you have to leave."
Bush joined Judge James P. Jones in welcoming the new citizens, shaking hands with everyone–- unless they got a hug or a pat on the back or a kiss. Young Julia White Freeman was picked up by the president when she went to receive her certificate of citizenship.
The day was particularly poignant for Thomas Jefferson Foundation president Dan Jordan, for whom it was the last Fourth of July after 23 years of leading Monticello. His son, Daniel Porter Jordan III, U.S. District Judge for the Southern District, was on the platform with the other judges.
Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson of the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals mentioned that he'd been to college with Bush–- both attended Yale–- and that the future president was "widely liked and widely admired," but Wilkinson did not mention that his classmate didn't nominate him for the Supreme Court in 2005.
Wilkinson also told the new Americans that his favorite part of the Fourth of July is hearing their stories, and encouraged them not to be embarrassed because the president was there, and to "speak from your heart."
They did. Mary McFadyen came from Scotland 30 years ago and thanked Bush for "giving me the inspiration" to go through the naturalization process." Another said, "Good morning. No demonstrations, please. I am proud to be an American."
– PHOTOS BY RYAN HOOVER
3:21pm update: Some protest video.