Published Saturday, November 10, 2012
By ALEX MCRAE
As Veterans Day approaches, Americans across the country are making plans to gather and pay tribute to those who have fought to make us free.
This year, those Americans will include 49 people from 23 different countries who were sworn in as official citizens of the United States of America Friday by U.S. Magistrate Judge Russell Vineyard at the Lewis R. Morgan Federal Building in downtown Newnan.
Once the ceremony was over, our newest citizens were already united in their happiness on becoming Americans.
South Korean native Yong Jin said, “It feels like... it’s hard to say, I am just so happy. I have been here for 15 years and I feel like a newborn.”
Friday’s event was the first time such a naturalization ceremony has been held in Newnan. The ceremony began at 11 a.m. with the presentation of colors by the East Coweta High U.S. Marine Corps JROTC honor guard. Kathy Farmer then led the crowd in singing the national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Vineyard welcomed everyone and noted that having the first such ceremony in Newnan was a “historic occasion.” After recognizing visitors, Vineyard introduced Assistant U.S. Attorney Larry Sommerfeld, who called the roll of applicants and asked each to stand, state their name and what country they were from.
Each did so with a clear, firm voice. Once the roll of applicants was confirmed, Sommerfeld made a motion that Judge Vineyard administer the Oath of Allegiance to all who had qualified for citizenship.
Vineyard asked each to raise their right hand and administered the oath. Vineyard then congratulated the group on “becoming our newest citizens.”
Ed Camargo, a former Brazilian immigrant who moved to the U.S. in 1984 and became a citizen 10 years later then presented remarks to the new citizens. He began by saying, “Welcome to the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
Camargo told how he had studied the English language intensely after arriving here and how hard he had worked to save enough money to open his own business, Stone Art Masterpieces, which creates original stonework pieces for interior and exterior decor.
He told the audience, “There is no limit to how far you can go because now you are an American citizen.” He said, “We are all bound together by common values” and that “America is a land where ordinary people do extraordinary things.”
After Camargo’s remarks, Kathy Farmer sang “God Bless America,” Vineyard congratulated the new citizens again and the ceremony was adjourned.
As they flowed from the third floor courtroom at the Greenville Street building where the proceedings were held, the newly-minted Americans couldn’t stop beaming as they hugged friends and family and posed for their very first pictures as American citizens.
Irin Nazneen Kazi, of Bangladesh, said, “I feel so great. I have dreamed about this for years. And now I am an American.”
Nigerian-born Susan Aju, who has lived here for seven years, said, “I have worked for this for so long. It has been a dream for me to be an American. And now I am.”