People from 51 countries officially in the melting pot

By Shaun Moriarty
Citizen Chronicle Writer
Shaun@TheCitizenChronicle.com

STURBRIDGE — For 152 individuals from 51 different countries, this country’s 242nd birthday became their first Independence Day as citizens of the United States of America.

Old Sturbridge Village hosted one of 27 naturalization ceremonies held nationwide on America’s birthday, as scores of family, friends, and spectators looked on at the Village Common. Sturbridge hosted one of three such ceremonies in Massachusetts today, with others naturalized in Lowell and Northampton in a separate events. Nationally, officials said more than 14,000 new citizens would be naturalized in ceremonies between June 28 and July 10. During the Independence Day ceremony at Old Sturbridge Village, the names of each country of origin was read aloud while those who once called those lands home waved the national flag of their new home — the United States of America. These newest Americans came from the nations of Albania, Australia, Barbados, Belarus, Bhutan, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, China, Colombia, Cote D’ivoire, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Germany, Ghana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, India, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Liberia, Mexico, Nepal, Netherlands, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Russia, Rwanda, Spain, Sudan, Thailand, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, Uruguay, Venezuela, Vietnam, and Zambia.

In order to be eligible for naturalization, individuals must be aged 18 or older and fill out the necessary paperwork, be a lawful permanent resident (green card holder), have lawfully resided in the United States for at least five years, have been physically present in the United States for at least 30 months, be a person of good moral character, be able to speak, read, write, and understand the English language, have knowledge of U.S. government and history, and be willing to take the Oath of Allegiance.

Beneath a heavy dose of sunshine and heat, Joseph S. Forte of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services presented the candidates for naturalization — now full-fledged citizens of the United States — to U.S. District Court Judge Kenneth P. Neiman. The 152 immigrants pledged their Oath of Allegiance to the United States.

I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”

Following the Oath of Allegiance, a soldier stationed in New Hampshire who came to the United States in 2008 led those in attendance through the Pledge of Allegiance. The Old Sturbridge Village Singers also took part in the ceremony, performing patriotic songs, such as “My Country ‘Tis of Thee.” Elsewhere on the Village grounds, the standard day’s operations continued, with the addition of fife and drum music, dramatic readings of the Declaration of Independence by costumed re-enactors and a narrator, as well as a large print of the Declaration of Independence for visitors to affix their John Hancock to.

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