MANCHESTER -- Trinity High School students proudly displayed their patriotism Tuesday as 40 New Hampshire residents representing 24 nations became U.S. citizens in a ceremony held at the school.
Waving small American flags, the students sang along to Lee Greenwood’s “Proud to be an American.” America’s newest citizens and students alike took to their feet, belting out the refrain, “And I’d gladly stand up next to you and defend her still today. Cause there ain’t no doubt I love this land, God bless the U.S.A.”
And when it was done, there was loud applause, whistles and chants of “USA. USA. USA.”
“It’s a beautiful day,” said Job Ombati after the ceremony. His wife, Ruth Ombati was one of the 40 who recited the Oath of Allegiance to the United States and officially became an American.
The naturalization ceremony is becoming an annual event for the family who came to Manchester from Kenya. Job Ombati and his son, Simon, 15, became citizens last year, and the family hopes their other two sons will become citizens next year.
Job Ombati arrived in Manchester as a student 11 years ago. His wife and children followed three years later. Today, he is employed by the state Department of Health and Human Services, and she works for the Moore Center.
To become a citizen, they had to be a U.S. resident for five years, pass an examination and pay application fees that cost about $1,000 each. It is that last part that has resulted in the family’s need to stagger their citizenship applications.
Also among the country’s newest Americans is Nick Camerlenghi of Hanover, who originally is from Italy. He has lived in the U.S. for 25 years, having arrived with his family when he was 13. He lived in Massachusetts, but moved to Hanover after being hired by Dartmouth College as a professor of art history.
“It may sound cliche, but I have been here a long time and really have gotten so much opportunity and a good life out of being here,” he said. “I thought it was time to do it, to become an American citizen.” With him was his wife, Jessica Maier, and their 6-month-old son, Matteo, who was decked out in red, white and blue and wore an American flag T-shirt.
“He beat me to it,” Camerlenghi said of his son already being an American.
They enjoyed the ceremony and the students’ involvement in it, which included the high school’s choir singing the national anthem, and six students, who have derivative citizenship (they were born in another country but became citizens through their parents) leading the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Maier said a student told her it was the first time she had been to a citizenship ceremony. “She said it was a great honor,” Maier said.
Yanet Suero, 29, of Portsmouth, grinned and waved her citizenship packet high in the air in celebration. The mother of 3-year-old Sky came to the United States originally as an exchange student, returned to her native Dominican Republic but came back five years ago “because we have a place to be free” and where there are no restraints on liberty, she said.
Anthony Violanti, director for the Manchester field office of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, led the new citizens in the Oath of Allegiance. They also heard from President Obama in a video in which he said it was his honor and privilege to call them citizens of the United States.
The 40 new citizens came from 24 different countries including Albania, Barbados, Bhutan, Brazil, Canada, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Germany, India, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, Latvia, Morocco, Nepal, Netherlands, Pakistan, Poland, Russia, Ukraine, United Kingdom an Uruguay.