With their hands over their hearts and voices loud, 90 new Americans pledged their loyalty to the United States in a naturalization ceremony at Missouri State University.
Thirty-two different countries were represented in the Plaster Student Union. They had waited in lines, filled out paperwork and fought through the challenges of becoming an American. For the 90 successful applicants, a new life begins.
Doug Harpool, a U.S. District Court Judge for Western Missouri, officially welcomed the crowd of new American citizens.
“The freedom we have and the opportunity we have, while we may take it for granted because we were born here, is recognized by those around the world as something that is desirable – and let me tell you, these applicants have worked hard," Harpool said.
The ceremony was sponsored by the Public Affairs Mission at MSU, where Stacey Trewatha-Bach is the coordinator for special projects.
“Witnessing so many people go through the process and culminate in taking their oath of allegiance to the United States is really a spectacular and a very special moment," Trewatha-Bach said.
MSU President Clif Smart said having the chance to host another naturalization ceremony is an honor that the university does not take lightly. Their accomplishment called for a celebration, Smart said.
“In a moment, you will all raise your hands to take a sacred oath. Let me be the first to congratulate you and call you my fellow Americans," Smart said.
After a pledge to the stars and stripes, a rendition of “America the Beautiful” ended the celebration in song.
Judge Harpool said the new Americans add strength and new energy to the ranks of U.S. citizens.