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New citizens celebrate America’s birthday in Annapolis ceremony


Source: Capital Gazette, E.B. Furgurson III

Well before the crowds emerged in Annapolis for parades, festivities and fireworks, there were signs of life and the holiday — and the promise of America — in Annapolis on the Fourth of July.

Bunting and flags flew from front porches. A smattering of tourists took coffee among the chairs and tables freshly set for al fresco repast. Clusters of strapping military men in civvies, but identified by high and tight haircuts searched for a place to begin the day. A daddy took a walk with his pre-K daughter who was all dolled up in red-white-and-blue.

I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or — Oath of Allegiance

The stage was being set for the coming hordes. WRNR Radio’s Sky Box truck was in position at City Dock overlooking Susan Campbell Park where scores of folding chairs leaned on each other ready to be set up. A crew readied the Harbor Queen for her fireworks cruise and a family posed for a snapshot of the Annapolis vista.

A few blocks away at the historic William Paca House — where one of Maryland’s four signers of the Declaration of Independence once lived — a standing room only crowd gathered at 9 a.m. to celebrate America and its promise on the nation’s birthday.

There they witnessed 22 people, hailing from 15 countries from every continent save Antarctica, become American citizens.

Steed Tuopo, born in Cameroon, stood in his Army fatigues and took the oath with the others. Afterward, he huddled with family and three fellow D.C. National Guard soldiers for snapshots.

“I feel, well, pride. Just pride,” he said.

sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of — Oath of Allegiance

Daniel Renaud, of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, gave a welcoming speech to the new 22 using language rarely heard in public discourse recently.

“We know not the journey that you took. It was probably 22 separate journeys, but they all landed here,” Renaud said. “Everything that is American is now part of who you are … 243 years ago the birth of this nation envisioned exactly what we are doing here today.”

He spoke of the tradition of giving or receiving gifts on a birthday, America’s birthday.

“In this case, you give and get,” Renaud said. “Today you get the honor of citizenship, the responsibility of citizenship, you get new rights new freedoms, new opportunities and we invite you to take advantage of all those — run for office, vote, participate in your community. And you can root for Team USA in the World Cup without any guilt.”

America against all enemies foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States — Oath of Allegiance

But, he said, it is what the new citizens are giving that is just as valuable.

“You are adding to the fabric. You are giving your traditions, your native languages, your art, your dances, your food, especially your food,” he said as the crowd chuckled on his food point.

“As you transition to becoming U.S. citizens you don’t lose that,” he said. “Don’t lose who you are. It is who you are that brought you to this place.”

For Kim Moffett, Canadian born, it was a doubly special day to become a U.S. citizen. It was her birthday.

“As a little girl I dreamed of living in America since my birthday is July 4,” she said.

She said she had been seeing fireworks on her birthday ever since moving to the states 26 years ago. “But now I will celebrate as an American,” the North Bethesda resident said.

when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the armed forces of the United States when required by the law; — Oath of Allegiance

Tongwa Aka, also from Cameroon, has been in the country since 2010.

“It is a very special day to become a citizen, no better day than America’s birthday. I will never forget. Now every year it will be ‘Yay’ as I remember this day.

It took close to 10 years for her to go through the process.

“It took a little bit of time,” she said. “But I am glad it came to this. Now I can finally say ‘We The People.’ ”

and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, so help me God. — Oath of Allegiance