Sept. 20, 2022 | G. Michael Dobbs
New citizens raised their right hands and many held American flags as they took the oath of allegiance.
Reminder Publishing photo by G. Michael Dobbs
SPRINGFIELD – More than 200 people from around the region took the oath of allegiance to become United States citizens at a ceremony conducted on the grounds of the Armory Museum at Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) on Sept. 15.
The new citizens represented, as District Court Judge Katherine A. Robertson noted, were from 71 countries, “literally from A to Z – from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe.”
This list included Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Australia, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Bhutan, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burma, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, China, Colombia, Congo-Kinshasa, Costa Rica, Cote d’Ivoire, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, France, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Mexico, Moldova, Mozambique, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Somalia, South Africa, South Korea, Syria, Taiwan, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, Uruguay, Venezuela, Vietnam and Zimbabwe.
She said that as a judge the annual ceremony is “the most meaningful and joyous part of the job,” She added, “We’re celebrating the choice you made.”
The timing of the ceremony was designed to coincide with Constitution Day on Sept. 17, explained Springfield Armory National Historic Site Superintendent Kelly Fellner. She added how the site in Springfield was already an arsenal for the nation when the Constitution was adopted in 1787, and then made the nation’s armory in 1794 by George Washington.
The group of new citizens broke out in applause and cheers when told by Joseph Forte of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services their children under the age of 18 are now citizens as well.
Springfield Technical Community College professor Zahi Haddad exclaimed, “What a remarkable journey you have made.”
Haddad immigrated to this country from Jordan when he was 17 years old in order to follow his dream of being an engineer. He recalled how he worked two jobs while he learned English through a program at STCC.
He is now the chair of the engineering program at the college.
Haddid told the group living in this country allows a person to “become whomever and whatever you want to be.”
He advised the new citizens to “remember your past and leave your marks on this great country.”
Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno, whose parents both immigrated to this country from Italy, said of the group, “They came here, the greatest democracy of the world.”