Fountain Hills resident, Honorary Consul to the Republic of El Salvador and Executive Director of the Diplomatic Corps of Arizona, Enrique Melendez, said he recently had the honor and privilege to be invited by the Homeland Security Department to be the keynote speaker at the Independence Day Naturalization Ceremony held at South Mountain Community College.
“This was a very special event for me and my fellow Marine Corps friend, Phil Yin, a Fountain Hills resident who received numerous decorations, including a Purple Heart, while serving our country in Viet Nam,” Melendez said. Yin also took part in the special ceremony. “Phil was born in Chunking, China, and I was born in Santa Tecla, El Salvador.”
Melendez said Yin received his citizenship in 1963 while his own was effective in 1966 in San Francisco, Calif.
“The emotion-filled ceremony held at South Mountain College Auditorium was administered by the Honorable Roslyn Silver, a Senior District Judge in Arizona,” Melendez said. “My message to our new brother and sister Americans was one of positiveness, hope and belief that in their hearts we will have and enjoy a better America.
“Sadly, our society has turned to hatred, anger, jealousy and this year full of death with reckless individuals who have no respect for human life and belief in God.”
Melendez said many of the new citizens brought this last issue up to him and Judge Silver, which is why he tried to deliver a positive message. Despite some rough recent years, Melendez said the gravity of the day was immense.
“One of the new citizens, born in Germany, cried on my shoulders, as she had waited 18 years to take the oath of allegiance,” Melendez said. “As the world continues its turbulent times, it’s up to the next generation being taught by fathers and mothers today the word I have used frequently while serving on our Town Council as councilmember and vice mayor and today as executive director of the Diplomatic Corps of Arizona. Simply, that word is ‘respect.’”