Monticello Holds Annual Naturalization Ceremony

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Naturalization ceremony at Monticello Naturalization ceremony at Monticello
Naturalization ceremony at Monticello Naturalization ceremony at Monticello
Taniaz Mamund Taniaz Mamund
Melissa Kitto Melissa Kitto
Reidar Stiernstrand Reidar Stiernstrand

Dozens of people are now officially citizens of the United States of America.

Federal Judge Michael Urbanski administered the oath of citizenship to 67 people on the steps of Thomas Jefferson's Monticello Wednesday, July 4.

The new citizens come from more than 30 countries, and some shared their thoughts on what it means to be a part of America and what they plan to do.

"Of course you want to be a full part of where you live and contribute to society in the best way you can," said Reidar Stiernstrand from Sweden.

Taniaz Mamund came from Iraq and has lived in the U.S. for five years.

"It's an honor to be here," she said.

Mamund now lives in Harrisonburg, and says she came here because of what's written in the Declaration of Independence; freedom.

"Because there's not everywhere freedom in this world,” Mamund said. “In America we find these freedoms."

Melissa Kitto came from New Zealand and now lives in Orange County. She says she is looking forward to filling her obligations as a new citizen.

"It just felt like it was time to kind of become official and to had the rights of a citizen, particularly to vote," said Kitto.

"All I really wanted to say was how incredibly lucky, privileged and humble I feel after having just become a citizen," said Steven Robinson, who came from the United Kingdom. "Thank you, and I won't let you down."

"I'm so grateful to live in this country. God bless you, America," said Angela Fowlkes from Honduras.

Some of these new citizens said they have mixed feelings about the issues involving immigration along the nation’s southern border.

"I can see the value of having those procedures. However, at the same time, you know, I care about people and I think people should be treated fairly," Kitto said.

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