ROME — She was born in West Berlin, Germany, relocated and lived in Canada as an adult and presently lives in Clinton, a brand new United States citizen.
Along with 49 other people from 25 other foreign lands Doris Hellinger took the oath of a naturalized citizen on Thursday, Sept. 26 in the Oneida County Surrogate Court, 302 James Street in Rome.
The Honorable David N. Hurd, United States District Judge conducted the ceremony with family, friends and supporters of the 50 new, soon to be, U.S. citizens huddled into the courtroom on rainy week-day morning.
“Typically we have this ceremony at Fort Stanwix, said Hurd, standing before the crowded courtroom. “ I did order a sunny day so we could have these proceedings there, but as you can see my federal powers are limited when it comes to the weather”
Hurd continued to be light and jovial.
“Ordinarily, this is a place that is somber, serious and filled with tension,” he said. “However, today I encourage you all to clap, yell congratulations, take pictures and enjoy yourselves.”
Kym Johnson-Fox entertained the room with an acapela performance of Lee Greenwood’s “I’m Proud to Be an American,” to which at least two women could be seen drying their eyes.
Keynote speaker, Father Paul Angelicchio of St. John the Baptist church in Rome, spoke of his grandfather coming to this country and of the pride becoming a citizen gave him and the whole family. He spoke of never giving up as a dream springs new hope.
“We honor our past,” he said. “In doing so, together we can build a future. As it was said about Robert Francis Kennedy [at the time of his death]-”Some men see things as they are and say why, I dream of things that never were and say why not.”- (George Bernard Shaw).
Hellinger said she felt good about earning her citizenship, but if someone had told her she would change citizenships at the age of 80, she’d have told them they were crazy. Also, she said studying for the citizenship test took her three months, and it was difficult.
“The remembering for the test was the hardest,” said Hellinger, with tears in her eyes. “But my husband’s kids are here and we decided this is where we are going to stay. I feel good and relieved. I grew up in wartime without my mother and father, and I wouldn’t want to see that happen to his children.”