May 31, 2024

New citizens take Oath of Allegiance to United States in Windham

By Ed Pierce

It was an emotional and highly anticipated event for 21 applicants as they raised their right hand and took the Oath of Allegiance becoming new American citizens during a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Naturalization Ceremony held at the Windham Veterans Center on May 24.

Applicants from 20 different nations took the Oath of
Allegiance and became new American citizens during
a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services 
Naturalization Ceremony held at the Windham Veterans
Center on May 24. A total of 21 individuals became
new citizens at the event. PHOTO BY ED PIERCE 
Hailing from 20 different nations, those taking the oath at the event successfully met the requirements to become an American citizen, including residing in the United States for at least five years, being at least age 18, demonstrating the ability to read, write and speak basic English, being of good moral character, passing an examination covering U.S. history and government, and swearing loyalty to the U.S. by taking the Oath of Allegiance. This group joins 878,500 other applicants who have successfully become U.S. citizens in the past year nationwide.

The new citizens were welcomed to the event by Sergeant James Barlow of Raymond, who serves in the Maine National Guard. He described how he left his home in Manchester, England and traveled across the Atlantic Ocean to become an American citizen.

Barlow went on to earn a college degree at Saint Joseph’s College of Maine and said he wanted to give back to America, so he joined the Maine National Guard where he serves as a recruiter.

“You have no limitations, the sky is the limit,” Barlow told the new citizens. “Be inspired, that is the mindset. This opens a new world for you.”

Ciaran Gill of South Portland, 35, was one of the applicants being sworn in at the event as a new American citizen.

He is originally from Australia and met his American wife, Alexandra Meyer, 12 years ago in Australia. The couple returned to Maine five years ago and Gill works for Idex in Portland.

Starting the process to become a U.S. citizen was something that Gill has strived to achieve for the past few years.

“We have made a permanent life here and to formalize it by doing this is a huge step,” Gill said. “The significance of this will probably sink in later today and in the coming weeks.”

According to Gill, passing the citizenship examination was not a difficult challenge for him.

“I love history and geography, so it was a fun test,” he said.

Meyer said she was proud of her husband for overcoming the various hurdles and requirements to citizenship.

“It’s exciting for him to now be able to vote and becoming a U.S. citizen also means he can receive a U.S. passport,” she said.

State Rep. Barbara Bagshaw of Windham was the keynote speaker at the naturalization ceremony and in her address to the new citizens she quoted remarks made by former U.S. President Donald Trump at a Naturalization Ceremony at the White House in 2019.

“There is no higher honor or greater privilege than becoming an American citizen. Our whole nation embraces you with open arms and joyful hearts,” Bagshaw said.

Music for the ceremony was provided by the Raymond Elementary School Chorus who performed “The Star Spangled Banner,” along with “America the Beautiful,” “You’re a Grand Old Flag” and “This Pretty Planet.”

Also attending the event was State Senator Tim Nangle of Windham, State Rep. Jane Pringle of Windham, and American Legion Field -Allen Post 148 Commander Tom Theriault of Windham.

The Oath of Allegiance was administered to the new citizens by Erika Grunnet, acting Field Office Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in Portland. Greg Marchand, UCCIS Operations Support Specialist, served as master of ceremonies for the Naturalization Ceremony.

Refreshments were provided by the American Legion Post 148 Auxiliary.<

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