COLUMBUS, Ga. – Americans grow up saying and hearing both the national anthem and the pledge of allegiance. But for nearly two dozen immigrants from 13 countries, reciting the pledge of allegiance Tuesday meant a new start for their futures.
21 people from different international backgrounds spent about half an hour at the federal courthouse, finalizing the work and preparation it takes to become U.S. citizens. Honduras-born Carol Buckley-Breeden says she spent months on the path to citizenship, even after moving to Georgia in 2008.
“You just have to do it,” Buckley-Breeden said. “Once you get the paperwork in, it just speeds by. But I wouldn’t put it off. I wouldn’t suggest thinking twice. Just go ahead and do it.”
The Athens-Clarke County teacher says she still wants to seize opportunities in the U.S. despite what some call the most divisive times in recent history. The Hon. Judge Clay Land presided over the naturalization ceremony. He emphasized that different cultures and nationalities historically make up the America people know and love today.
“What is remarkable about America, is that not withstanding our differences, we are still one,” Land said.
Julia Keating with the Daughters of the American Revolution says she sees a deep desire for immigrants to adopt American values.
“It’s a lot of hard work to become a citizen, a lot harder than being born I think,” Keating told News 3. “We don’t have to say this oath because we were born here. And I think that moved us more than anything These people really have to want to be a citizen of this country.”
For Buckley-Breeden, her family supported that desire to become an American citizen. Her husband, children, and grandchildren were all in attendance at the ceremony. Through heavy emotions, Buckley-Breeden says she had been waiting for her citizenship for more than 30 years.