A great appreciation and understanding of the freedoms and opportunities in the United States is a unique facet of the Boy Scouts of America. And as of Independence Day, Cub Scout Leader Heath Arliss of Ruckersville, Va., can finally proclaim he is a United States citizen.
Along with 77 other people from 40 different countries, Heath took the Oath of Citizenship during a Naturalization Ceremony at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello on July 4, 2015, before dozens of his friends, family and of course, Cub Scout Pack 174 donning their blue and gold uniforms.
Also proudly wearing his Scout uniform at the ceremony, Heath credits his participation in Scouting for reaching that exceptional day.
“I am very proud to consider myself an American now and Cub Scouts has played a big part in the decision-making process.”
Upon reviewing the core values in the “This is Scouting” BSA leadership course, Heath says he noticed citizenship was number one. Inspired by his finding and with a strong desire to become an American, the den leader began the lengthy naturalization process. He went to Arlington, Va., for his interview and requested Monticello as the location for his ceremony.
“My interviewer asked why I wanted to wait so long instead of doing it at a courthouse in April,” said Arliss. “I explained that I was a den leader in Cub Scouts and thought there was no better way to show the value of citizenship and what it means than becoming a citizen myself, and what better place to do the ceremony than at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello.”
Ceremony speaker Gov. Terry McAuliffe encouraged the new citizens to invest in their country and exercise their right to vote, calling it, “the most precious right that you will be granted today.”
For immigrants embracing a new home and culture, the BSA has always supported newcomers and challenged them to be active Americans. Heath’s journey from his birthplace in England to citizenship in America has hardly an easy undertaking, yet with Scouting, the milestone is all the more meaningful and worthwhile.
“This was a very good day for my family and for me,” said Arliss. “The total process took about 6 months from start to finish and it was a pleasure to share the experience with my den and with my Pack.”
Learn more about the ceremony and those honored by checking out The Daily Progress and check out the photo gallery to the left to see more photos.