The observation of Nevada Day held special meaning for 60 locals Friday, who celebrated by becoming official United States citizens.
For many of the immigrants, the journey to citizenship has taken more than a decade. They have had to pass tests, pay fees, meet requirements, and wait. But Friday they got to call themselves Americans.
"I am very, very proud," new citizen Athiwanyae Mmuan, of Thailand, said, "proud to be an American, finally."
"I worked so hard to try to become a U.S. citizen," new citizen Phuong Bowers, of Vietnam, said. "I am so proud of myself [for becoming] a citizen."
The sixty immigrants come from 27 different countries all around the world, from Thailand, Turkey, and Yugoslavia to El Salvador, Ethiopia, and Ghana.
Their backgrounds are as diverse as their nationalities, but the one thing they have in common is their desire to become Americans. After years of applying and proving residency, they had to pass a test on their knowledge of American history, the Constitution, U.S. geography, and the English language.
Friday morning they sang the national anthem and took the Oath of Allegiance, dropping all affiliation with their countries of origin. They joined the nearly 800,000 immigrants across the country who become legal citizens every year.
"This is the most exciting thing about our job," U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services spokesperson Marie Sebrechts said, "the day that we can welcome new citizens. These people become part of the American family. They are just like those who were born in the United States."
This was the fourth time the USCIS has held a naturalization ceremony on Nevada Day.
Saturday, May 25 2013 2:16 AM EDT2013-05-25 06:16:04 GMT
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