Dozens of new United States citizens were welcomed by a group of youth violinists Friday during their naturalization ceremony at the Oklahoma City federal courthouse.
Before the ceremony, the applicants and audience were treated to a half-hour of various tunes performed by 15 students ages 5 to 14 from the Norman School for Strings.
The students also performed four songs during the ceremony, beginning with “The Star Spangled Banner” after the court was opened by Chief Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange.
The 43 new citizens were introduced by their countries of origin that included: Belarus, Burma, Cambodia, Cameroon, China, Croatia, Germany, India, Iran, Japan, Kazakhstan, Laos, Mexico, Nepal, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia, the United Kingdom and Vietnam.
The applicants were sworn in with the Oath of Allegiance led by new federal Court Clerk Carmelita Reeder Shinn, and followed by a video welcome by President Barack Obama.
The students then performed “America the Beautiful” before the judge addressed the new citizens.
“We know America is a better America after each naturalization ceremony,” Miles-LaGrange said. “America will become even better because you were naturalized today.”
Speaker celebrates immigrants
The ceremony’s guest speaker was Ehteshamul Haque, who emigrated from Bangladesh to Oklahoma in 1980.
He first arrived in Poteau before completing his computer science degree at the University of Central Oklahoma in 1987, the same year he was naturalized and married to an American woman.
Haque’s love of America began in 1969 when he witnessed Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon, he said.
His dream was to become an astronaut, but he found his career working on computers for federal court systems in Oklahoma.
“You dreamed about this day. You lost sleep about this day. But you passed the citizenship test, and now your day has come,” he told his new fellow citizens.
The ceremony concluded with the courtroom full of Americans reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and a rendition of “My Country Tis of Thee.”
After the court adjourned, the citizens were given their naturalization certificates and took photos behind the judge’s bench while students played “You’re a Grand Old Flag.”
“From now on, this flag is your flag. And, most importantly my fellow new citizens, be proud of it,” Haque said.
Audrey Bacharach, 8
Matthew Bocox, 10
Theo Cohen, 12
Jordan Fletcher, 8
Henry Ingels, 11
Paul Lawrence, 14
Surya Miranda, 10
Laura Pollack, 7
Andrew Sharp, 7
Jackson Stone, 10
Sophia Stoops, 5
Catie Thai, 11
Miranda Thai, 9
Zachary Tu, 11
Emma Wells, 7