Welcome, new Americans!

By Daria Kroupoderova
Northwest Asian Weekly

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From left, Kyung Ku Lee, Jedy Gillespie, Swaraj Pandey, and Jingying Lu are sworn in as naturalized U.S. citizens. (Photo by Daria Kroupoderova/NWAW)

For several hundred immigrants, Fourth of July’s real blast arrived the moment they were sworn in as U.S. citizens during the 30th annual naturalizaion ceremony at the Seattle Center.

Hailing from 70 countries, 429 people took their oaths in front of a huge crowd that included friends, family, and local diginitaries.

The ceremony began with introductory remarks and the Presentation of Colors by I Corps Honor Guard from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, followed by the playing of the National Anthem by the Greenwood Concert Band.

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Ethnic Heritage Council board president JoAnne Lee welcomes the audience. (Photo by Daria Kroupoderova/NWAW)

The ceremony included a performance called “The Honor of All” by Native American performers Gene Tagaban, Swil Kanim, and Peter Ali. Tagaban began by telling a story, then getting the audience members involved by giving a few of them musical instruments while he was dressed as a raven.

Local dignitaries in attendance included Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, King County Executive Dow Constantine, U.S. Representative Jim McDermott, Gov. Jay Inslee, and U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell.

Speakers, including Constantine, Seattle Center Director Robert Nellams, and Ethnic Heritage Council Board President JoAnne Lee gave welcomes and personal greetings to the audience.

The Spirit of Liberty was awarded to Danish American Jens Lund by McDermott.

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Lily Liao, left, and David Guo become Americans. (Photo by Daria Kroupoderova/NWAW)

Afterwards, there was a special mention by Murray of the oldest candidate to be sworn in, Kyung Ku Lee, who is 80, from Korea.

In addition, two active duty military candidates, Jedyleeh Gillespie from the Philippines and Swaraj Pandey from Nepal, were acknowledged by Murray.

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Young Abigail Liang, already a citizen, watches as her mom, Epay Leu, and dad, Kevin Liang, become naturalized citizens. (Photo by Daria Kroupoderova/NWAW)

Finally, the moment that everyone was waiting for came when U.S. Circuit Judge Richard C. Tallman administered the oath.

Congratulatory addresses were made by Cantwell and Murray, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance, led by Children of the World.

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‘The Honor of All’ dance was performed by Gene Tagaban. (Photo by Daria Kroupoderova/NWAW)

The ceremony came to a close with remarks from Murray and the retiring of the colors by the I Corps Honor Guard.

The ceremony was presented by The Ethnic Heritage Council, Seattle Center, United States District Court for the Western District of Washington, and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. (end)

Daria Kroupoderova can be reached at info@nwasianweekly.com.

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