July 4, 2014
As we recognize the 238th year of America's independence, we are also taking time to applaud dozens of new citizens who are making the United States their country.
Hundreds of people gathered at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello for the 52nd Annual Naturalization Ceremony.
“We think that this is really the birthplace in some ways of our republic, because it was Jefferson who dedicated himself to the future of the country,” says Susan Stein, head curator at Monticello.
On the day of independence 73 people from 38 countries around the globe are also celebrating their first day as citizens of the United States of America.
“I feel so excited,” says Hilda Isabel Williams from Peru. “I think it was a really important step for not only me, but for my family.”
Some have been here for a few years, while some have spent most of their lives living in America, but today is the day that they can officially call themselves a citizen.
“It was fascinating,” says Guadalupe Margarita Mora from Ecuador. “I have all of my family living here.”
“I have my son, my daughter-in-law and my two grandchildren who live here in Charlottesville.”
As the new citizens sat patiently waiting to take their oath as Americans, they heard words of wisdom from David Rubenstein, the Co-Founder and Co-CEO of the Carlyle Group.
“You are helping to revitalize our country,” says Rubenstein. “You are bringing new skills and energy and talents to our country and you are, by your choice, showing the world that the United States serves as a beacon of opportunity for all who aspire to a better life.”
Then the justices of the Western District of Virginia proudly called off the names of America’s newest citizens.
“I'm in a country where there is freedom, there is justice, and this is where you want to be with opportunities,” says Denis Tebit from Cameroon. “There's always hope so this is a happy day for me.”
The playing of the national anthem at the end of the ceremony signaled the beginning of a new chapter. A chapter full of new opportunities and freedoms as a citizen of the United States.