June 14 marked an important day for 67 men and women in Anchorage, Alaska, who attended a special naturalization ceremony to gain U.S. citizenship. Individuals from 26 different nations, including Kenya, Taiwan and Peru, gathered at the Wilda Marston Theatre to become citizens. Many of these new Americans had to wait several years for the opportunity, according to Anchorage NBC affiliate KTUU.
“A lot of people have traveled a very rocky road to get to this point, so you don’t really realize when you look out at a sea of happy faces that have endured some pretty awful things to get to this point,” Sara Hardgrove, immigration services officer at Anchorage Field Office, told KTUU. “Those of us that were born here, don’t really think about it too much, or pay too much attention to it, kind of lose sight of the fact that it’s an amazing place to be.”
In the same week, 77 people became U.S. citizens at the Daley Center in Chicago and nearly 400 people recited the Pledge of Allegiance at Abravanel Hall in Utah. In Chicago, men and women from 34 countries took part in the Flag Day celebration. The majority of these individuals hailed from Poland, the Philippines, Iraq and India.
In Utah, 392 candidates ranging from 19 to 78 years old became new citizens of the United States on June 12, the Deseret News reported. Although many people at the ceremony felt like members of their respective communities prior to the event, the naturalization process made everything official. The group also received a message from President Barack Obama welcoming them to the country. Peru, Mexico, England and Uganda are just a few of the countries represented at the ceremony.