Local News

Raleigh Welcomes 100 Proud New Citizens To America

Posted November 10, 2003

— For millions of people, United States citizenship is something to be proud of.

Friday, at Dorton Arena, 100 people took the pledge to become Americans. The ceremony was marked with great pageantry and emotion.

Each of the 100 candidates had a story. And none of them could have been any prouder.

There was Rupal Tariq, from India.

"It is very exciting," she said. "I think it's great for everybody, for my whole family."

There was Ileana Rojas, from Costa Rica.

"I feel very happy," she said. "I completed part of what I needed to do, you know, to feel part of the society, completed."

There was Emmanuel Ngeve, from West Africa.

"Great day," he said. "Great day. I've been dreaming to become a U.S. citizen for a very long time."

Friday was that time -- a time for the First Lady of North Carolina, Mary Easley, to welcome America's newest citizens.

"We are truly E-Pluribus Unum," Easley said. "Out of many, one."

And now, those 100 people represent one nation.

Tariq is a hotel manager in Raleigh, Rojas a high-school teacher in Wilson, and Ngeve a youth program assistant from Durham. They all have lived in America for several years but Friday made their citizenship official.

"I welcome you, my fellow Americans," Judge Earle Britt said.

Tariq could not say how excited she was.

"I have no words right now," she said. "I'm very excited. I'm very happy.

"I just feel like I'm ready to go to war, to do anything. Ha."

Said Rojas: "It's so amazing and exciting. You just feel very motivated inside, you know. You're a complete different person at that point."

Ngeve, meanwhile, said there was no place he would rather have been.

"This is the greatest country in the world," he said. "This process alone will lead me to other things tomorrow."

Their tomorrow has begun.

"Let freedom ring," they all sang together.


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