News / USA

    New US Citizens Sworn In At Joyful NYC Ceremony

    Jamaican-born Natisha Bowen smiles at her U.S. citizenship ceremony.
    Jamaican-born Natisha Bowen smiles at her U.S. citizenship ceremony.

    Multimedia

    Audio


    Hundreds of immigrants officially became American citizens in New York on Friday in a sometimes emotional ceremony of swearing-in and welcoming.

    That is the sound of 165 newly minted U.S. citizens representing 48 nations of the world, pledging their allegiance to the American flag and what it represents.

    It was just one high point in an hour long public ceremony that included the awarding of citizenship certificates, many congratulatory words, and much applause.

    All those assembled put their hand-held American flags to rest and listened closely while New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg welcomed them.

    "Whether you are originally from Palermo [Sicily] or Pakistan or Hungary or Haiti, today you are all Americans, and we are delighted that you have chosen the United States as your new nation, and New York City as your new home," he said. "So thank you for doing that. May God bless you all and may God bless the most wonderful country in the world, America!"

    Like the nearly seven million others who have became American citizens over the past decade, all of Friday's honorees were required to pass an official citizenship test that demonstrated a basic knowledge of spoken and written English, and a working knowledge of American history and the Constitution.

    In his speech, Bob Kerrey, the New School University's president and a former U.S Senator, acknowledged the audience for the hard work it takes to become educated and informed Americans citizens. It's a legal status he said many native born Americans take for granted.

    "When something is given to you, unfortunately you don't appreciate it as much as when you have to work for it. And it is my experience that all of you, as soon to be new citizens of this great country, have more to teach us of what it means to be American, [and] more to teach us of what this country is at its best, than perhaps we have to teach you. So, thank you. You are an inspiration to all of us, as Americans who were given this right of citizenship at birth. Good luck to all of you," he said.

    US Army private David Aminolte, originally from Ghana, was beaming. Because he has served in the U.S. military for over a year, he was put on a fast track to becoming officially an American. Minutes after taking the oath of allegiance, he spoke to the VOA about Friday's milestone on his road to the American dream.   

    "It means a lot in my heart that, you know, that America is giving the opportunity to excel. And being a citizen is actually going to open more doors for me in the Untied States to succeed.  I'm privileged, I'm honored to be a citizen," he said.

    Jamaican-born Natisha Bowen was also looking to a bright and interesting future in her adopted homeland.  "Today, I am glad to officially be in the land of opportunity and I am loving it. America is a place of opportunity [and] diverse cultures. Even just walking outside to the store, you will see different cultures  - and I love that. And I look forward to growing my kids to appreciate different cultures," she said.

    Brazilian born Rosetta Egan loves the American democratic system.

    "What I most like in this country is that people fight for their rights, and the system works well here.  And things change. In many other countries, you have someone in power that is doing bad things and nothing happens. And I am proud to be an American for many things. But the fact that we live in a country that is always trying to do the right thing makes me feel very good," she said.

    Indeed, there were as many rational reasons to celebrate the  rights, responsibilities, and rewards of being American as there were people in the room. But when a New School student took the stage to sing God Bless America for these newest Americans, all faces in the room told a profoundly emotional story as well.

    You May Like

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora