Monticello hosts 61st annual naturalization ceremony
ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Over 50 people became citizens of the United States at the footsteps of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. The prospective citizens stood in front of the Founding Father's house and took the oath of allegiance to the United States.
"A moment of happy, joy, and pride for me because people from different countries with different backgrounds, nationalities, culture, belief and thoughts, we are all together as one nation," said Muhammad Mustafa Subhan, a new US citizen.
Subhan and 55 others from 28 countries became American citizens at the footsteps of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. This marks the 61st annual naturalization ceremony held at the historic property.
"To be here at Monticello and welcome new citizens is incredibly special. This is the best place in America, I believe, to be on the Fourth of July," said Interim President of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Gardiner Hallock.
Hallock says he enjoyed hearing from the individuals on their momentous day.
"Their speeches, their remarks today were incredible. It was a wonderful celebration of becoming citizens," he said.
Each candidate had different reasons for becoming an American. Tasha Samborski, who grew up in the States but was born in Canada, wants to have an effective voice.
"My inner family is all on different timelines with their decision to become a citizen, but for me it was really important so I can vote in the upcoming elections. To not be able to vote was frustrating," she said.
Samborski says the gathering on Tuesday is an example of what she sees for America.
"There's a lot of polarization in today's world and it was kind of nice to be reminded of coming together," she says.
Subhan, who settled in central Virginia seven years ago after moving from Afghanistan, couldn't have imagined this for himself.
"I never thought there would be a day where I was celebrating my naturalization," he said.
He's always wanted to be part of the ongoing American experiment, outlined by the Founding Fathers.
"This country is observing the principle of equality. We all men and women no matter from where we come, we are all the same and we are equal and this is a very practical way of showing it, that we are all the same and have the same privileges, rights, and now we have the same responsibilities," Subhan said
This year, President Jim Ryan spoke to and celebrated those who were naturalized. He was added to the list of notable figures who have spoken at this event, including President George W. Bush and Colin Powell.