RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – St. John’s Church in Richmond was the backdrop for a special naturalization ceremony Thursday.
The spot is famously known as the location of Patrick Henry’s “Give me liberty or give me death!” speech.
The candidates from 39 countries took the oath of allegiance to become naturalized American citizens.
St. John’s Church Foundation and Commonwealth Chapter NSDAR organized the event.
The date had significance, too. April 19 was the first day of the American Revolution 243 years ago.
“I love liberty, I love the speech, I love America,” said Bassim Yousef.
The father of three participated in the ceremony. He came to the United States five years ago from Egypt.
“When I think of being a citizen I think of voting because I will love to vote next November,” he said.
Mina Abiskahiroon, also from Egypt, is familiar with the naturalization process. Abiskahiroon took his oath 10 years ago.
“I remember the day as if it was yesterday,” he said.
On Thursday, it was his father’s turn.
“This country has great things to offer and we are living the American dream,” he said.
Kamal Abiskahiroon said he was happy and excited to become a naturalized citizen.
“America is the land of the brave and the land of opportunities and we are blessed to be here,” said his son.
It has been nearly 10 years since Sami Abdalla left Darfur, Sudan.
He came to the United States as a refugee. Now, he’s looking forward to starting college soon to study business.
He can’t wait to tell his grandparents about the ceremony when he returns home.
“It was pretty amazing. I feel like this is better than a wedding — because you get freedom,” said Abdalla. Organizers said the new citizens are not the only ones who walked away with a smile and pride.
“It also reaffirms the wonder of being an American citizen,” said Alison Eckis of Commonwealth Chapter NSDAR. “Because we can see how meaningful it is to these new citizens.”