37 take part in naturalization ceremony

KAREN VIBERT-KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette New U.S. citizens and their families and friends recite the Pledge of Allegiance during a Naturalization Ceremony at the U.S. Middle District Court in Williamsport on Friday. 37 people from 22 countries became U.S. citizers at the ceremony.

Thirty-seven immigrants from 22 different countries received their United States citizenship after a naturalization ceremony held at the federal courthouse on West Third Street on Friday.

U.S. Middle District Judge Matthew W. Brann, along with seven members of Daughters of the American Revolution congratulated the new citizens as family and friends applauded.

“The United States Constitution protects and reserves the rights of all citizens,” Brann said.

“Today is a wonderful day for this court because the court can bestow these rights through this ceremony.”

Each citizen received their certificate of citizenship and the Daughters of the American Revolution handed them each a United States flag after taking the Oath of Allegiance and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

“Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women,” he continued. “You will now become citizens of this remarkable country. You inherit a great legacy and a great duty.”

The new citizens came from the countries of Argentina, Canada, the people’s Republic of China, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Jamaica, Liberia, Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Singapore, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.

Matthew Fully, among other citizens, was chosen to give a speech at the ceremony. Fully, now of Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, was originally from Liberia.

“I was born in Liberia during the Civil War and about five months after I was born, my father was killed, so I was raised by my mom,” Fully said. “When I was 13, I had to live in Guinea, West Africa as a refugee. It has been a real struggle. In 2012, I moved to the United States.”

He continued by explaining that what he has accomplished might not have been possible without living in the United States.

“Throughout the past seven years, my time here has been very fruitful. I have been able to acquire three degrees from renowned American universities and I believe those things could not have been possible 16 years ago when I lived in a refugee camp,” Fully said. “As the 14th Amendment said, I will now go on to enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Winston Ashley, 83, originally from Jamaica, is one of the oldest immigrants to be naturalized in Williamsport. Ashley has been a resident since 2013.

“I’m so blessed,” Ashley said. “I’m very proud. I’ve been attached to the nation over the years.”

Today he is working part-time at the garden center on College Avenue, but he wants to do more with his new life and citizenship. “I want to do volunteer service. Maybe get involved in healthy aging and intergenerational leadership programs.”

Fully explained that he and his fellow immigrants would not have had some of these opportunities if they had not come to the United States. He said he hoped to seize everything that comes his way.

“Whether there are many opportunities or a few, we know that today we have been blessed, all of us here appreciate the opportunity,” he said. “It’s like the accomplishment of a dream I didn’t have 16 years ago as a refugee.”