Hearts swelled Monday morning as 22 kids from 13 countries were sworn in as American citizens.
The 11-year-old Fotu twins sang a stirring rendition of the national anthem, setting the scene for a prideful and happy day at the Discovery Gateway Museum.
Nine-year-old Yguette Umutesi had one word for her new status: “Amazing.”
Her uncle, Dee Musare, said she has a bright future in the United States.
“It’s a pleasure to be an American,” said Musare, who became a naturalized citizen recently. “It’s a blessing and a miracle.”
Musare and Umutesi’s mother, Louise Musare, were driven from Congo by warfare to a refugee camp in Rwanda, where his niece was born.
“Our previous life was very hard,” he said “Now, she has a good life and a good future.”
The ceremony recognized children who obtained citizenship when their parents became naturalized citizens; others were adopted by parents who already were U.S. citizens.
Laura McNeer, the field office director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, led the new Americans in the oath of allegiance.
Karen Hale, deputy Salt Lake County mayor, congratulated the youngsters on their new citizenship.
“This is a special day for you,” she said. “This is a day you’ll remember, perhaps, for the rest of your life.”
Hale told the kids that it is up to them to use their creativity and motivation to make the United States an even better country than it is today.
“What a great gift to our country you bring,” she said.
She quoted former president Barack Obama: “America is a place where we can be part of something bigger... where we can recognize a common creed... a loyalty to our democracy.”
Hale told the new Americans not to forget their history because it brings with it a strength to the fabric that is the United States.
Linh Tran, 10, was born in Saigon, Vietnam. She now lives in West Valley City with her parents Andy and Phuong Tran. Her father said his family loves living in Utah.
“It is very nice and it is very beautiful,” Andy Tran said.
Linh likes the United States, she said, “Because it’s really easy to go to school and make friends and eat the foods you like.”