RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Assistant United States Attorney Robert McIntosh reads countries of origin aloud.
“Bulgaria, Canada,” he lists them in alphabetical order.
One by one, 100 candidates stand when they hear their native land. The candidates represent nearly 50 countries but share a common goal: to become United States citizens under the constitution and laws.
“The journey was long from Ghana to Italy to over here,” remembers Kuukua Saisie, a native of Ghana. “It’s been a long journey, but I thank God for everything.”
Each candidate has been interviewed, passed an English and Civics test and today takes the Oath of Allegiance.
“I hereby declare, on oath,” officiates Honorable Roger Gregory, Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
One hundred men and women raise their right hands and repeat his words.
“So help me God,” they say together as words of congratulations and claps echo around them.
At this ceremony at the Virginia Historical Society (VHS), the group became naturalized citizens.
Jeanette Hamlett, a native of Brazil, has been working towards this day for ten years.
“It was not easy,” she explains. “A lot of study, a lot of interviews and everything.”
She and the others know there was no better time to take this last step than Independence Day.
“Freedom and liberty,” Saisie says what the day means to her.
Adds Hamlett, “You can feel that being proud of being an American and seeing all the past of this nation, all the journey of this nation to become a free country. I cannot describe the feeling. It’s so amazing. It’s like a dream come true.”
VHS estimates 500 people attended today’s ceremony. They include family, friends and those who wanted to show their support to the naturalized citizens.