Friday was a special day for some men and women in Belmont County. After a solemn ceremony at Ohio University Eastern, they can now call themselves United States Citizens.
They came to the United States for a job, for love, for freedom, for a better lifestyle, and for some, survival.
“You don’t normally leave a place unless there’s some compelling reason. So we have people from Iraq today for example who fled. We have people from Somalia who fled,” said Judge Edmund Sargus.
Dr. Angelo Georges’ grandfather came here from Greece and never looked back. Years later, Dr. Georges and his father went to see the grandfather’s homeplace.
“It wasn’t a house. It wasn’t much better than a cave. It was a dug-out cement block awful looking thing. My dad’s face dropped. He looked at me and he said now I know why my grandfather never came back,” Georges said.
For a couple from India, expecting their first baby in two weeks, the timing of the naturalization ceremony was perfect.
“And actually we were thinking the baby would be the first American citizen in our family. But by God’s grace or whatever, we became American citizens first!” Srvani Paladagu said.
Lisa Spellman from London England explained why she came to the United States.
“Victoria’s Secret actually recruited me and brought me over here a few years ago so it was really important to me that I get the opportunity to vote and be part of this wonderful country,” Spellman said.
They held tiny American flags and stood and took their oath together.
They went through the receiving line, being congratulated and welcomed.
Their children sensed the impact of this day, and everyone took pictures, of the moment their mother, father, sister, brother or spouse became an American.
“We are one nation under God and to see these people’s smiles on their faces just absolutely made my day,” said Belmont County Commissioner Mark Thomas.