The Honorable John Preston Bailey, Chief Judge, United States District Court, presided over a Naturalization Ceremony in Elkins on Tuesday. He welcomed 17 new U. S. citizens representing 13 countries.
"It is special to preside over a happy occasion," Bailey said. "It is a pleasure for those here in the court room to share in this special moment with you and your families as we celebrate your citizenship."
United States Deputy Clerk Julie Schoonover administered the Oath of Allegiance to Armida Aguilar Alexander of the Philippines, Sandra Patricia Aramburu Ramirez of Peru, Jennifer Vidal Buchanan of the Philippines, Lydia Bautista Comaingking of the Philippines, Linda Marie Johansson Ratnakar of Sweden, Mostafa Kurdi of Syria, Fernando Antoni Porras Rodriguez of Venezuela, Stephanie Elisabeth Smith of Belgium, Lorelie Villegas Tenney of the Philippines, Xiaoli Zheng of China, Patricia Garza of Mexico, Mary Paz Jacobs of Spain, Sean Van Lee of Turkey, Sanat Narottamlal Oza of India, Anna Angelica Pusz of Russia, Hussain Kasif of Pakistan and Saavedra Reel Marieta of Peru.
The Inter-Mountain photo by Beth Christian Broschart
A Naturalization Ceremony Tuesday in Elkins welcomes 17 new U.S. citizens representing 13 countries. Stephanie Elisabeth Smith, originally from Belgium, took the Oath of Allegiance in the ceremony conducted by the Honorable John Preston Bailey, Chief Judge, United States District Court. Smith and her husband J.H. Smith, above, celebrate her new citizenship with family members at the ceremony.
The program included the invocation and benediction by the Reverend Mister Raymond Godwin of St. Brendan Catholic Church, flag ceremony and distribution of flags by Boy Scout Troop 88 members Peyton Shields, Justin Bibey and Micah Toney, and a youth reading by 11th grade Highland Adventist School student Annie Fleming.
Melody Hare, Deputy Clerk, U. S. District Court sang the National Anthem and "God Bless the U.S.A." by Lee Greenwood and the Daughters of the American Revolution presented each new U.S. citizen with a flag pin.
Guest speaker for the ceremony was Dr. James B. Phares, Superintendent of Randolph County schools. He encouraged the new citizens to never take their citizenship for granted.
"It is with great pride and honor that I welcome you as new U.S. citizens," Phares said. "I understand the pride I see in your eyes."
Phares told those gathered that the most valuable item he has is his voter registration card. He explained that is what sets the United States apart from all other countries.
"With this card, you can have a voice in what happens in this country," he said.
Stephanie Elisasbeth Smith said she was very excited to become a U.S. Citizen.
"I have wanted to do this for a long time," Smith said. "I am so glad this day finally came."
Smith came from Belgium to the United States to attend Marshall University.
"While at Marshall, my roommate Melissa Gabel brought me to Elkins to attend the Mountain State Forest Festival," Smith said. "It was a wonderful time and this is where I met my husband, J.H. Smith."
A reception sponsored by the Daughters of the American Revolution immediately followed the ceremony.
Contact Beth Christian Broschart by email at email@example.com.