Newnan welcomes 49 new residents
by Wes Mayer
As 2013 Veterans Day approaches, the United States District Court of the Northern District of Georgia granted citizenship to 49 men and women at the Newnan Federal Building on Greenville Street.
Honorable U.S. District Judge Timothy C. Batten presided and welcomed the soon-to-be new U.S. citizens during ceremonies Friday. The 49 men and women already passed interviews questioning them on U.S. knowledge, and learned to read, write and speak basic English. Friday’s naturalization ceremony was their final step to becoming citizens.
“I am so very, very happy to be here,” said Oum Kalsum Saahir after being granted citizenship. Saahir, formerly a citizen of Cote d’Ivoire, or Ivory Coast, now lives in Lawrenceville. “I have been waiting to be here for a long time,” she said. “God bless America who accepts all people from all over the world.”
For the ceremony, the Newnan High School Junior ROTC members presented the U.S. and Georgian colors, and Northgate High School student Jewel Patterson sang the National Anthem. Assistant U.S. District Attorney Angela Garland then read the names of all 49 men and women, who in turn stood up, said their name and country of birth.
Judge Batten then allowed any requested name changes, and the oath was administered, granting U.S. citizenship to all. The Pledge of Allegiance was recited, and Batten introduced the guest speaker, Angel McCreery, to say a few words.
McCreery was born in Brazil, moved to the United States in 1977 and became a citizen in 2006, Batten said. She began her bachelor’s degree in Brazil and finished at Georgia State University, later obtaining her master’s degree in mathematics education. McCreery is currently the mathematics teacher at Woodward Academy in College Park.
“You will begin to feel a change as new citizens of this country,” McCreery said, “and this country will change because of you.”
McCreery talked about how she decided to become a citizen after having strong feelings for a presidential candidate. Desiring the right to vote, she applied and gained her citizenship. She talked about how her citizenship of Brazil is still very important to her, and her Brazilian roots still complement her daily life as an American.
“I know this country is a part of me as much as I am a part of this country,” McCreery said.
Patterson again stood up to sing “God Bless America,” and the 49 new citizens and others in the audience joined in. Batten then gave closing remarks and closed the court.
“Welcome to the greatest country in the history of this world,” Batten said to the new citizens.
The citizens received welcoming gifts from local members of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and members of The League of Women Voters were available to help citizens register to vote.