Twenty-Three New United States Citizens Naturalized in Gulfport
Gulfport, Miss. – Twenty-three applicants for U.S. citizenship were sworn in today as new citizens during a naturalization ceremony held at the United States District Court in Gulfport, Mississippi.
United States Magistrate Judge Robert H. Walker presided over the ceremony. Judge Walker welcomed family, friends, soon-to-be citizens, and special guests, including Dr. Antoine B. Rizk, a cardiologist with Memorial Hospital at Gulfport. Following a performance of "America the Beautiful" by sisters Chloe and Noelle King and Eric Boutwell of Stone High School, the applicants were presented for citizenship by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Graben on behalf of Jeff Sessions, the Attorney General of the United States.
After Arthur Johnston, Clerk of the U.S. District Court, administered the Oath of Allegiance for citizenship, the honorees recited the Pledge of Allegiance for the first time as U.S. citizens.
Judge Walker congratulated the new citizens and commended them for their hard work to achieve citizenship. He challenged them to make the most of the opportunities now before them as new citizens by continuing to work hard; engaging in civic and community activities; and registering to vote and participating in the electoral process. He also encouraged them to serve on juries when summoned; stay informed about important local, state, and national events; defend the United States if called upon; and obey all laws. On the importance of becoming a citizen, Judge Walker quoted former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis, who said, "The only title in our democracy superior to that of President is the title of citizen."
Dr. Rizk, who was born in Lebanon and naturalized as a U.S. citizen fourteen years ago, also addressed the new citizens. He told them that while many opportunities lay ahead for both them and their families, those opportunities will only be realized if they dedicate themselves to becoming the best citizens possible. Dr. Rizk also observed that most of them came from countries that did not afford its citizens the rights, freedoms, and privileges that U.S. citizenship offers. He concluded his remarks by wishing them well.
Judge Walker then presented the new citizens with certificates of citizenship. Representatives from the Daughters of the American Revolution Friendship Oak Chapter also presented them American flags.
The new citizens originated from the following 16 countries: Egypt, Philippines, Laos, Costa Rica, Vietnam, Mexico, El Salvador, Jordan, Honduras, Cuba, Canada, India, People’s Republic of China, Yemen, Nicaragua, and Burma.