40 celebrate freedom, American citizenship at Fort Stanwix
It was a “happy day” in a place where “all were winners.”
At one of the famed national landmarks symbolizing the nation’s independence, about 100 new citizens, their family members and friends gathered at Fort Stanwix National Monument Thursday for the fort’s annual Naturalization Ceremony.
Forty individuals took the Oath of Allegiance with U.S. District Court Northern District of New York Judge David N. Hurd presiding. Normally Hurd conducts such ceremonies in his federal courtroom in Utica.
Instead, new citizens Thursday gathered inside the fort, located in the judge’s hometown, once where patriots fought for the freedoms citizens, and new citizens alike, enjoy today.
The ceremony began with the singing of the National Anthem by barbershop quartet Firestorm and the Presentation of Colors by members of the Rome Free Academy Reserve Officers Training Corps. State Immigration Services Officer Gwynne Dinolfo presented the candidates for citizenship, while Deputy Clerk Phil T. McBrearty administered the Oath for Citizenship.
During remarks, Judge Hurd acknowledged the 19 nations represented by the country’s new citizens by reading their names and asking the candidates to stand, responding with a smile and “thumbs up” of approval. He reminded the new citizens to take advantage of and protect the freedoms they have here, such as the freedoms of speech and religion, the right to assemble and right to vote and be a voice in government.
“It’s your obligation to vote to protect the freedoms we have,” Hurd said. “We encourage everyone to speak out.”
As he reminded those taking the oath that in no other time in their life will they most likely be in the same room with so many “great people” of different nationalities, Hurd noted, “Be proud of where you are today and what you will be.”
Before receiving their Certificates of Citizenship, Rome City Schools Superintendent Peter C. Blake addressed the crowd, reminding the new citizens to “learn to be a brother and sister” to their neighbors and community members.
“We can learn from each other,” said Blake, noting that the candidates came from “all walks of life.”
The superintendent told the candidates to always remember and honor their cultures, traditions and values, and to share them with their new communities. He said educating each other would only make the country stronger.
“We are already a great nation, but we can always be better,” Blake said.
New citizen Harshim Myint, formerly known as Jo Din and a native of Burma, addressed his fellow candidates, thanking his employer, Chobani, headquartered in Norwich, for welcoming several refugees and giving them employment.
Myint arrived in the U.S. on Sept. 28, 2007.
When he first arrived in North Carolina, a family took him and his family members in “although they had a different religion.” After getting acclimated to his new country, Myint and his family then moved to Utica where they knew of a large population of Burmese refugees.
Myint gave a promise from him and his fellow candidates that they would “do everything to make their community a better place to live.”
A list of new citizens and their native lands:
- Mumina Jeylani Abdiyow, Somalia;
- Fatuma Abdurahman Abdulahi, Kenya;
- Alaa Salbokh Zajee Al Rakabi, Iraq;
- Shereen Denise Armstrong, Canada;
- Muhamed Bico, Bosnia-Herzegovina;
- Angelina Brutskaya, Belarus;
- Jose Amado Callanta III, Philippines;
- Sonia Marquez Callanta, Philippines;
- Xhevdet Deliu, Kosovo;
- Cindy Vanessa Diaz Vallejo, Columbia;
- Ja Mar Din, Burma;
- Jo Din (Harshim Myint), Burma;
- Ayanda Dube, Zimbabwe;
- Simone Gurbo-Mantellassi, Italy;
- Antonina Guryeva, Russia;
- Enver Hodzic, Bosnia-Herzegovina;
- Kyaw La Htoo, Burma;
- Fatima Camil Husovic (Fatima Husovic)
- Emina Karcic, Bosnia-Herzegovina;
- Bangone Kennerknecht, Laos;
- Su Ku, Burma; Dah Khu Lah, Burma;
- Kmwee Lay, Burma;
- Samir Lugonic, Bosnia-Herzegovina;
- David Gorden Mentus, Guyana;
- Dah Gay Moo, Burma;
- Uyen Phuoc Nhu Ngo (Vicky Phuoc Ngo),
- Thuan Quang Nguyen (Austin Nguyen), Vietnam;
- Miriam Margarita Ocampo, Ecuador;
- Eh Paw, Burma;
- Sa Pi Paw, Burma;
- Murat Pejkovic, Bosnia-Herzegovina;
- Eh Say Plaw (Pokhee Ehsay Plaw), Burma;
- Mu Ba Reh (Muba Rak), Burma;
- Narayan Prasad Sharma, Nepal;
- Irfan Smlatic (Erfan Smlatic), Bosnia-
- Hortencia Del Socorro Sosa, Nicaragua;
- Elena Victorovich, Belarus;
- Paw Khi Wa, Burma; and
- Aung Tha Ya, Burma.