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Culture

38 Immigrants Become Naturalized Citizens in Springfield

http://ozarkspub.vo.llnwd.net/o37/KSMU/audio/mp3/38immigran_3352.mp3

38 individuals from every corner of the world gathered in the federal courthouse Friday afternoon in downtown Springfield to become naturalized United States citizens. KSMU's Jennifer Moore was there and reports.

Stan Kolar was born under communism in the former country of Czechoslovakia.

He was raised by his grandmother, who bought him a plane ticket to the United States when he became an adult.

Sitting in the federal courthouse in Springfield, eleven years later, he gets ready to give his oath of allegiance and became an American himself.

Kolar says he feels like his heart is American now.

He sits among 38 candidates from France, Paraguay, Indonesia, Mexico, the Phillipines and 19 other nations. Their families anxiously look on from the back of the courtroom.

Finally, the immigration clerk asks them to all rise and state their countries of origin.

Next, they give an oath of allegiance to the United States of America...

In doing so, this collection of restaurant owners, architects, housewives and artists simultaneously become official citizens of the USA.

Each new citizen has gone through years of paperwork and tests to complete the arduous process. The ceremony takes place once a year in Springfield.

Congressman Roy Blunt spoke to the new citizens, telling them almost all Americans—or at least their ancestors--were immigrants at one time.

The ceremony ended as the new citizens rose to their feet, with their hands on their hearts, and with their families emotionally lookingon, they said the pledge of allegiance for the first time as Americans.

For KSMU News, I'm Jennifer Moore.