Dozens of area residents celebrate Fourth by becoming citizens - FOX 8, WVUE, fox8live.com, weather, app, news, saints

Dozens of area residents celebrate Fourth by becoming U.S. citizens

Some of the 51 people pledging the Oath of Allegiance Thursday (Scott Satchfield) Some of the 51 people pledging the Oath of Allegiance Thursday (Scott Satchfield)
A child watches Thursday's ceremony (Scott Satchfield) A child watches Thursday's ceremony (Scott Satchfield)

Their journeys began in various, diverse locations across the globe. But this Fourth of July, 51 people living in the New Orleans area came together with a common goal -- to become U.S. citizens.

Inside the World War II Museum Thursday, they raised their right hands and took the Oath of Allegiance to the United States of America.

For Paula Lamus, born in Colombia, it was the realization of a life-long dream.

"It's like a relief," Lamus said. "You know, you've been waiting for this for so many years. I've been in this country for a long time and just waiting for this moment to come around, and it's a little bit more freedom."

Honduran native Amanda Hurlston, who lives in Slidell with her family, described the feeling as "pure joy."

"I'm married to an American citizen and there are just so many opportunities that America has offered us and I just wanted to embrace it," Hurlston said. "It's an awesome moment. It's a moment that we can cherish."

The New Orleans ceremony is one of more than 100 events taking place across the country this week, allowing nearly 8,000 people to gain citizenship.

"It's a fulfilling feeling. I mean, I've got the opportunity to better myself and better my family so, that's what it means to me, helping my family," said Roger Malcolm, a native Jamaican. "You can realize your dreams, and realizing your dreams, that a fulfillment which people elsewhere in the world does not have, and I'm afforded this opportunity."

While the naturalization ceremony is a necessary step in making citizenship official, some said their feelings of patriotism had been with them -- long before.

"I've been (in the U.S.) for so long, I've always felt like this is my country because I kind of grew up here. So, I love everything. It's my country. I feel like it's my country," Lamus said.

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