County Welcomes New Americans
GOSHEN—It was important day for Ricardo Watson, Dimitri Yasnikov, Carmen Morales, and 74 others from 37 countries as they became naturalized American citizens on Sept. 18. County Clerk Rabbitt administered the Oath of Allegiance to prospective citizens who repeated the oath before the American flag.
Acting Supreme Court Justice Lori Currier-Woods presided over the ceremony. Justice Currier-Woods spoke of her ancestors, some of whom emigrated from Poland and Sweden and others who lived in Orange County during the Revolutionary War.
Special guest speaker Gina Bonfiglio spoke of her personal experience living in New York City on 9/11. Her husband, Gene, is an FDNY Battalion Chief and a survivor of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Newly-minted citizen Dimitri Yasnikov from Bulgaria was happy to have finally made it. “I’ve been in the country for about 10 years. Just getting through the process, getting that one piece of paper, [I’m proud] being part of the greatest country in the world. It’s the most amazing feeling ever.”
When Ricardo Watson received his certificate of naturalization and shook hands with assembled dignitaries, he walked back to his seat, put up both hands and shouted “America!” He was happy. “It’s a great accomplishment, you know. America is a patriotic nation, with a lot of patriotic individuals and I am [one of those individuals]. I am very proud to be an American today.” When asked what country he was from, Watson said, “I was Jamaican, now I am American.”
Carmen Morales lived in the U.S. most of her life having arrived with her parents from Mexico when she was three. She held a bouquet of flowers and smiled from ear to ear. “It’s exciting. It means freedom and I am excited to be part of America. I always felt that I was, anyways. I was raised here.”
The county clerk’s office hosts six naturalization ceremonies a year in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security (Citizenship and Immigration Services).
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