The U.S. District Court for the NMI welcomed nine new citizens in a naturalization ceremony last Thursday that came just in time for them to join the Independence Day celebration yesterday, July 4.
U.S District Court for the NMI Magistrate Judge Heather Kennedy led nine former Philippine nationals in taking their oaths, where they swore, allegiance to the United States of America.
The newly naturalized citizens were Dawn Tadena Camacho, Melba Velarde Camacho, Jelie Lingcogo Bertoncini, Maria Cristina Panganiban Lustre, Analyn Clapis Phan, Jerome Sanarez Pollisco, Ramon De Asis Rivera, Kevin Digma Rejano, and Manolito Maranon Valenzuela.
Guest speaker Joe McDoulett, commander for the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3457, said in his speech that it was a momentous occasion to witness nine new citizens swear their allegiance to America in time to join in the celebration of its independence and freedom.
“This is not my country anymore, it’s our country. Together, we own this country, and together, we share the obligations to our country. You now join me and all the other U.S citizens in the enjoyment of the freedoms that we have. However, you also join us in our obligation to protect our country. I’m confident that you will live up to the words you spoke and you will join me in protecting our country and at the same time enjoying the freedom and rights that we enjoy,” he said.
According to Kennedy, although Independence Day is a day when Americans display their flags to show their pride in their country, Independence Day is really intended to commemorate the many freedoms that the United States is best known for, freedoms that the nine newly naturalized now share.
“The United States is famous for its freedoms such as religion, freedom of association, freedom of speech. I think people who become citizens understand those rights and digest them even more so than those who were born into them and they appreciate them,” she said.
Kennedy encouraged the naturalized citizens to recognize and practice their newfound freedoms.
“As you end your journey here today…recognize that you have personal freedoms, and honor the ideas of justice. I think personal freedoms and justice are the two defining principles of our US government,” she said.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is welcoming more than 9,400 new citizens in 170 naturalization ceremonies that will take place between June 30 and July 7 this year.
USCIS said in a statement that these ceremonies demonstrate the United States’ commitment to welcoming immigrants. USCIS is proud to welcome people from all over the world as our newest U.S. citizens during this celebration of Independence Day.
“This year marks the 245th birthday of our nation,” said acting USCIS director Tracy Renaud. “We are committed to promoting policies and procedures that ensure we operate fairly and efficiently, and continue to encourage and embrace the full participation of the newest Americans in our democracy.”
This year’s Day activities included two special ceremonies: a naturalization ceremony with President Joe Biden at the White House last July 2 and a ceremony with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas administering the oath of allegiance virtually to 22 military service members serving overseas, which took place last June 30.