On Memorial Day, we remembered and honored the men and women who sacrificed their lives for our freedom.
On Wednesday, 37 individuals from 20 different countries became United States citizens, part of the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Nine individuals came from Mexico, five from India, five from Venezuela, as well as China, the United Kingdom and Bosnia, to name a few.
The candidates pledged their oaths of allegiance and also heard from UNCW Chancellor Zito Sartarelli, who became a U.S. citizen 14 years ago. A touching video was played called "The Faces of Immigrants," highlighting those who have sacrificed so much, even leaving family to go to the US.
"This is so special. It is a new birth. You are starting anew with a new nationality," Sartarelli said. "It's very emotional. A lot of preparation goes into this."
Melissa Bowen was one of the 37 who received citizenship. She left Bosnia years ago and met her husband, a marine, in Saudi Arabia.
She said America is a country she grew to love well before Wednesday's ceremony.
"I love and respect this flag, not just for itself but because of my husband," Bowen said. "He works every day to fight for our freedom."
Roopsi Kaur also took the oath of allegiance. She came to the U.S. 12 years ago from India, and is now a dentist at East Carolina University.
"It means everything today to be complete," Kaur said. "I now have all the rights to be here for the rest of my life, and to help serve the citizens."
At the end of the ceremony, the new U.S citizens received their naturalization certificate, posed for pictures, and enjoyed light refreshments.
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