Born - as a citizen - on the Fourth of July

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July 4, 2013, 6:28 pm
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(NECN: Peter Howe, Boston) - No immigrant being naturalized as a citizen of the United States of America is likely to forget the day – but especially not when it’s onboard the 216-year-old USS Constitution, "Old Ironsides," on the very day of their new nation’s 237th birthday.

Twenty-six people from 18 nations took the oath of allegiance Thursday, one of 100 such ceremonies taking place around the nation and world, including one at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan.

"It’s an honor for us to have you aboard today, and I can't think of a better place to do it than on board the Constitution, on Independence Day, in Boston," said Navy Captain Matthew Bonner, commanding officer of the 1797 warship, as the ceremony began at a sweltering, muggy Charlestown Navy Yard.

Agdalee Jimenez, originally from Guatemala, was one of the 26, joining her husband and children to make an all-American family.

"It’s amazing – it’s amazing," Jimenez said. "It means so much to me. So amazing."

Sebastian Kraves, originally from Argentina, is a management consultant with the Boston Consulting Group and Harvard University graduate and now, officially, an American.

"I feel fantastic," Kraves said. "Boston’s been my hometown for 13 years now, and I'm loving to become a more formal part of America on this day. It's wonderful."

Kraves, too, has children who are native-board U.S. citizens.

"Two lovely American daughters, and now they have an American Dad – an all-American Dad," Kraves laughed.

For Michael Killory of Abington, Mass., citizenship has been something nearly 44 years in the making. He was a native of Halifax, Nova Scotia, who was a legal permanent resident and got drafted to serve in the U.S. Army in Vietnam at age 19, he recounted.

"This is about the fourth time that I was about to be sworn in. When I was in Vietnam, they wouldn't take me out of the field" to take the oath of allegiance, said Killory.

As Killory, 63, looked down at and clutched his certificate of citizenship, it was a moment he choked up, and words would not come.

Other nations with emigrants becoming naturalized U.S. citizens in the Thursday event include Brazil, Cape Verde, the People's Republic of China, Cuba, Ethiopia, Greece, Haiti, Honduras, Israel, Jamaica, Mexico, Morocco, Thailand, Ukraine and the United Kingdom, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

"We come by many paths," U.S. District Court Judge William G. Young, the son of a naturalized immigrant mother, told the 26 new citizens. "But we’re all in the same boat now."

With videographer Scott Wholley.

Tags: Boston, massachusetts, Peter Howe, USS Constitution, Old Ironsides, Matthew Bonner, Sebastian Kraves, Agdalee Jiminez, Michael Killory, William G. Young
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