© 2022 WFAE
90.7 Charlotte 93.7 Southern Pines 90.3 Hickory 106.1 Laurinburg
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

15 new U.S. citizens sworn in at Charlotte Fourth of July ceremony

nat ceremony 3 (2).jpg
Claire Donnelly
/
WFAE
New U.S. citizens are sworn in a ceremony at the Charlotte Museum of History on July 4, 2022.

This Fourth of July was particularly memorable for a group of Charlotte-area residents from 13 countries. They became U.S. citizens.

nat ceremony 2 (2).jpg
Claire Donnelly
/
WFAE
Cendy Mejia Rincon

The candidates sat in two rows of plastic chairs at the Charlotte Museum of History, each holding a tiny American flag. Right hands were raised as they took the Oath of Allegiance, before saying the Pledge of Allegiance for the first time together as citizens.

The crowd whooped and applauded as, one by one, the citizens received their naturalization certificates, all of them beaming, and some pumping their fists or waving their tiny flags.

“Being a citizen means everything to me,” said Cendy Mejia Rincon, who was sworn in Monday. “... This is a new beginning for better opportunities. Better jobs, my kids, my home, my husband — a new beginning.”

Mejia Rincon came to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic as a child in 2003. Now 28, she hopes to become a police officer.

The coronavirus pandemic delayed Mejia Rincon’s naturalization application process by several years, she said. In September 2020, the website Governing reported U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services had postponed naturalization interviews and ceremonies, deepening the backlog of applications.

nat ceremony 1 (2).jpg
Claire Donnelly
/
WFAE
Hted Lin and his mother

Monday’s group of new citizens emigrated from countries across the world: Afghanistan, the Bahamas, Brazil, Burma, Cameroon, the Dominican Republic, Germany, Ghana, Jamaica, Laos, Mexico, Peru and the United Kingdom.

Hted Lin, who originally hails from Burma and has lived in the U.S. for 12 years, posed for photos with his mom and his new certificate after the ceremony. He’s now 36 years old with big dreams.

“This country there are a lot of opportunities especially, like, great education,” Lin said. “... I want to take a chance and, you know, why not? Make American dreams come true!”

Lin and Mejia Rincon both said they were looking forward to celebrating with fireworks Monday night. They said the Fourth of July will now have an extra-special meaning for each of them.

Claire Donnelly is WFAE's health reporter. She previously worked at NPR member station KGOU in Oklahoma and also interned at WBEZ in Chicago and WAMU in Washington, D.C. She holds a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University and attended college at the University of Virginia, where she majored in Comparative Literature and Spanish. Claire is originally from Richmond, Virginia. Reach her at cdonnelly@wfae.org or on Twitter @donnellyclairee.