MARQUETTE - The United States of America welcomed 35 new citizens Friday afternoon upon completion of a Naturalization Ceremony held in U.S. District Court in Marquette.
"I wish you well in your new status," said Judge R. Allen Edgar, who presided over the ceremony. "With all this country's faults, we are a beacon of freedom in the world."
Edgar said the group now has "certain obligations to support democracy" and could do so by voting, and "and,"?he quipped, "of course, by paying taxes."
State Rep. John Kivela, D-Marquette, speaks to a packed room inside the U.S. District Court in Marquette Friday afternoon. A group of 35 adults representing 18 countries became U.S. citizens during a Naturalization Ceremony presided over by Judge R. Allan Edgar. (Journal photo by Jackie Stark)
"So congratulations to each of you for obtaining the status of citizenship today."
The group also heard from the representatives of several state and federal representatives. State Rep. John Kivela, D-Marquette, was on hand to give his remarks.
Also present were a group of Girl and Boy Scouts, who led the crowd in the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, as well as representatives for the Daughters of the American Revolution, who handed flag pins to the new citizens.
Countries from the Philippines to Germany, Russia to Canada, Burma to Uganda were all represented at Friday's ceremony.
All 35 new citizens declared, with their right hands raised, that they would "absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty, of whom or with I have heretofore been a subject or citizen."
The group also vowed to "support and defend the Constitution ... against all enemies."
Canadian Robert Froese, a professor at Michigan Tech University who was naturalized Friday, said he was pleasantly surprised by the day's ceremony.
"It's kind of wonderful," Froese said. "it was unexpected. I didn't know we would have quite such a ceremony. I suppose I shouldn't have found that surprising - it is an important day. I'm glad to be a part of it. it's just fantastic."
Daniel Turkett, Jr., originally from Liberia, made the trip to Marquette all the way from Massachusetts where he is studying to be an electrical engineer. Turkett said the ceremony was "fun" and said he enjoyed hearing all the different countries represented.
The 35 people had a long and difficult process to undertake to become citizens, first needing a green card. All applicants must also have had sponsors, have learned English and have passed a written test focused on American history and government.
After Friday's ceremony was complete, a reception was held in the courtroom.
Marquette County Clerk Peter Dishnow was also on hand to register anyone the country's newest voters.
Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is email@example.com.