July 4, 2005
Hundreds of people gathered at Monticello today. It was a special celebration of Independence Day. Nearly 80 people from more than 30 nations pledged their allegiance to America.
For a group of Virginia residents, July 4th has new meaning.
"I'm finally here and I'm a citizen and its great. It means a lot. It means that I belong to a country that I've adored for a long time," says U.S. Citizen Priya Mahadevan.
The Charlottesville resident from India took her oath of citizenship this today at Monticello's 42nd Annual Naturalization Ceremony.
"It's as important as the day I got married or the day I had my children. It just falls in that category. It's a very significant day for me," Mahadevan explained.
U.S. Citizen Darya Salih Askari agrees with Mahadevan, and is proud to experience the freedoms life in America offers.
"I feel free here [as far as] religion, free in thinking, free in language,"
The ceremony only lasted about an hour, but for some of America's newest citizens, it will be in the hearts of many for years to come.
"To see the emotion that comes from them being here, it's just an overwhelming day and I think it really makes you feel good to be a citizen. I love it," said Charlottesville Mayor David Brown.
More than 15,000 people across the nation are expected to become American citizens this week--something Americans both new and old are taking pride in.
Naturalization is governed by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Department of Homeland Security.