The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia helped 21 individuals take a huge step Monday in Elkins. The group took the Oath of Allegiance, each becoming a U.S. citizen.
Chief Judge John Preston Bailey presided over the naturalization ceremony. He welcomed those present, saying the proceedings are some of his favorites because when they are over, no one is mad at him.
"Usually when I am sitting here ruling over a case, someone doesn't like what I have said," Bailey said. "But here, pretty much everyone likes me."
The Inter-Mountain photo by Beth Christian Broschart
A naturalization ceremony Monday at the U.S. District Court in Elkins welcomes 21 new United States citizens. Chief Judge John Preston Bailey presided over the ceremony as Clerk of Court Cheryl Dean Riley administered the Oath of Allegiance.
Bailey reminded participants that the United States is the only nation in the world to be founded on and dedicated to the values of freedom, liberty and tolerance.
"More than 400 years ago, the colony in Jamestown was founded, marking what many consider the birth of this country," Bailey said.
"400 years may seem like a blink of an eye for those of you whose native lands originated thousands of years ago.
"Today at this legal proceeding, we celebrate with you the wonderful occasion of your new citizenship and the benefits of being a United States citizen," Bailey said. "With every benefit that comes to us being American citizens there are responsibilities as well. I hope that each of you will take the opportunity to reflect upon and appreciate the responsibilities that come with it."
Bailey called on the new citizens to take part in their communities.
"Take an active role in government affairs and vote in national, state and local elections," he said. "Be active by volunteering, which is vital to the progress of your town. Also serve proudly when asked to serve on a jury."
The guest speaker for the ceremony was journalist Jean Snedegar, who spoke of the very special people of West Virginia.
"We know you are special people as well and we welcome you to West Virginia," Snedegar said. "One of the things we do here is set on our porch and we talk to each other. I hope you experience that and I hope you enjoy being here. Welcome."
The invocation and benediction was led by the Rev. Raymond Godwin of St. Brendan Catholic Church of Elkins.
Representatives from Boy Scout Troop 88 of the First United Methodist Church led a flag presentation, pledge of allegiance and distribution of small flags.
Members of the Daughters of the American Revolution presented participants with a flag pin and hosted a reception following the ceremony.
U.S. District Court Deputy Clerk Melody Hare sang the National Anthem and "Proud To Be An American." AmeriCorps Vista worker Kim Hutcheson recited a poem titled, "I Am A Nation."
Those taking the Oath of Allegiance Monday included Alessandra Blackwell, Brazil; Gonzalo Alfredo Bravo, Chile; Xinlan Lucy Li, China; Rachel Lei King, China; Zhenjun Tom Tan, China; Daniel Francois Ferreras, France; Ann Diepholz, Germany; Regine Barbel Cormier, Germany; Gloria Alejandrina Strauss, Guatemala; Alfredo Amaya Diaz, Honduras; Paul Narsinglal Gogikar, India; Anita Rubianto Jones; Indonesia; Pascaline Badou Assamoa, Ivory Coast; Firdoss Sarwari, Kenya; Brahim Dardouri, Morocco; Arif Rashid Sarwari, Pakistan; Maria Lourdes Harr, Philippines; Mary Faith Sad Ang Casiwa, Philippines; Irene Maco Nicholson, Philippines; Paul Krzysztof May, Poland; and Angelika Rozagul Mowen, Turkmenistan.