Raleigh welcomes dozens of new US citizens on Fourth of July

Wednesday, July 5, 2017
Dozens of people sorwn in as American citizens on July 4th holiday
Patriots gather round Tuesday to celebrate the start of our nation and to welcome its newest citizens.

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Dozens of new citizens were sworn in on Independence Day on the steps of North Carolina's capitol building.

Many had family members beaming by their side, as Patriots gathered on Tuesday to celebrate the start of our nation and to welcome its newest citizens.

"The fact that I'm here regardless of where I come from, my religion, my background, my color, my gender... That is the best part of it," said Anita Ghajar-Selim, a new citizen originally born in Iran.

Twenty-three people from 19 different countries were sworn in as citizens during the ceremony.

Family members rushed in with their smartphones to document a moment that was at least five years in the making.

After pledging a new allegiance, those same hands were welcomed by volunteers.

"They've given up an enormous amount to come to our country," said Kathleen Slook.

A proud descendant of US military veterans, Slook said she likes to welcome the new citizens every year -- many of which are excited to exercise their new rights.

"That's one thing that I'm really passionate about: voting," Ghajar-Selim said.

"Help electoral justice, help others where I can," said Leon Edwards, a new citizen who was born in Jamaica.

Many of these new citizens had to give up successful careers.

Simon Mwangi Kibuga had to give up his career in computer engineering in Kenya.

Now, his eyes sparkle at the thought of a new life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.

"The freedom to pursue one's... dreams, that is great," he said. "And I dream, maybe not for myself so much, but my children, who are pursuing their dream to the uttermost."

Kibuga's story is similar to many of the people we spoke to; sacrificing all they had for their family, their "American Dream."

"There are many opportunities are up here that you have and that you can succeed in," said 11-year-old Leanna Edwards. "As my dad said, 'sky's the limit.'"