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72 Become Citizens at Monticello Naturalization Ceremony - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

72 Become Citizens at Monticello Naturalization Ceremony

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ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va (WVIR) -

Seventy-two new Americans took their oaths of citizenship Friday at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello. It is a Fourth of July tradition in its 52nd year.

Thousands of people celebrated the naturalization ceremony and Independence Day with the newly minted citizens, who represented more than 30 countries. One of those new citizens was Shoeab Rammar, who arrived in the U.S. in 2008 after surviving two wars. He says he lost everything in the Iraq war but Friday, he said, “this is the day of my freedom and the end of our sadness.”

Another new citizen, Dithendra Manning, said, “There is a whole different meaning to freedom and equality in this country. Other countries say it but here you have a deeper meaning to those two words.”

Fifth District Congressman Robert Hurt (R) spoke at the ceremony. “We have had immigrants that have joined this country who have come to this country through much hardship and they really do, they refresh us, they enrich this country and restore this country,” he said.

The keynote speaker was David Rubenstein, who spoke about some words Jefferson himself said. "The words ‘all men are created equal’ explain better than five words have ever explained what America and other democracies should be about and must be about,” he said. From his own success, Rubenstein donated $10 million to Monticello.

For Rammar and many others, the ceremony is a beginning. He plans to rely on the status he now has as a citizen to locate his missing daughter, whom he says he hasn’t seen since the Gulf War. He hopes to bring her to the United States.

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