AUGUSTA – It’s something many of us don’t have to think about, but Thursday in Augusta almost two dozen people successfully became United States citizens.
“The feeling is very excited and you know this happens just once in life,” said Karrar al-Subaihawi, originally from Baghdad, Iraq.
The newest U.S. citizens became naturalized at the Maine State House, fittingly in the Hall of Flags.
After taking their oath of allegiance, immigrants from everywhere from New Zealand to Nigeria to Russia received their citizenship.
For some that path meant traveling oceans and learning English – like for father-son duo, Jasim al-Subaihawi and Karrar al-Subaihawi, who came from Baghdad, Iraq in 2013.
“The situation is very bad in my country, I came with my family,” said Jasim. “Today I have citizenship and I‘m very happy, this is my best day.”
For others it meant being able to vote – something several people were registering for after the ceremony.
For one man from up the road a ways in New Brunswick, it was time to make things official since joining his wife here in Maine.
“It’s just kind of neat…kind of gone full circle. This is home, this became home a while ago and just happy to have the process completed,” said Sheldon Tozer.
To become a U.S. citizen, the people gathered Thursday had to have passed an English test, understand American civics, and complete a personal interview. Those were hurdles that were more than worth it to the new U.S. citizens we spoke with.
“It’s what we’re all looking for – citizenship, education, good life and that’s what brought us to United States,” said Karrar.
In all, 21 people became U.S. citizens Thursday, and organizers said it was extra special because of the proximity to Veterans Day.