Twenty people hailing from 12 different countries became US citizens in a Flag Day naturalization ceremony at the National Museum of American History, according to published reports.
The ceremony was held in a gallery of the museum featuring the American that inspired “The Star-Spangled Banner.” After a rendition of the song, the participants heard speeches from US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Alejandro Mayorkas where he spoke of how the process of raising the US flag every day provides hope for people across the globe, according to the Washington Post.
Many of the new citizens told the newspaper life in the US afforded them with many freedoms and opportunities that would not have been possible in their countries of birth. Kelvin A. Magana, a retired Army sergeant who was stationed in Iraq and South Korea, told the media outlet he originally came to the US with his parents as a child when they left El Salvador during its civil wars in the 1980s and 1990s.
Magana said US citizenship gives people, “the freedom to say whatever we feel like and not be afraid of any consequence. . . . It’s very important that people understand the freedom we have here. Now I’m able to treasure the freedom I have because I went through all that.”
The Flag Day ceremony was part of a USCIS initiative to celebrate the 34th anniversary of the adoption of the nation’s official symbol, the Stars and Stripes. Another naturalization ceremony was also held in Baltimore on the same day.