15 new U.S. citizens sworn in at Charlotte Fourth of July ceremony
This Fourth of July was particularly memorable for a group of Charlotte-area residents from 13 countries. They became U.S. citizens.
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.
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.