America the beautiful
July 31, 2014
By Christina Corrales-Toy
Eastside residents become U.S. citizens at Newcastle Library
July 23 is an important day for Newcastle resident Hui Russell.
On that day, four years ago, she relocated to the United States from China to marry and spend the rest of her life with then-fiancé Michael Russell.
On July 23, 2014, her link to the United States became forever cemented when she joined 10 others at the Newcastle Library for a special naturalization ceremony.
The 11 Eastside residents walked into the facility as citizens of China, Indonesia, Jamaica, South Korea, Taiwan, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and emerged as American citizens.
“It means that I can vote,” Hui said. “It means that I can get a U.S. passport. It is a great honor to be an American citizen.”
Representatives from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services administered the oath ceremony for new citizens in front of a crowd that included state Rep. Judy Clibborn, Newcastle Mayor Steve Buri and City Councilmembers Lisa Jensen, Rich Crispo and Carol Simpson.
During the administration of the Oath of Allegiance, new citizens “absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance” to their past country, and in turn promise to “support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States.”
In one of the more poignant moments of the ceremony, the USCIS representative told the candidates to stand before they took the oath, thoughtfully reminding them that “the next time you sit, you’ll be an American.”
On the web
View a photo gallery from the event here.
Several thoughts were running through Hui’s mind at that point, she said, but mostly, it represented the fulfillment of a dream that began when she first came to the states.
“I thought, ‘My life is going to change. I’m going to be an American citizen forever.’ That’s the moment you know that I’m getting there. I’m finally getting there,” she said with a smile.
It was just as satisfying for her husband Michael, as he sat in the audience. The couple, who met in China several years ago when he went there to teach English, has been married almost four years now. They moved to Newcastle in November 2013.
It was the first such ceremony at the Newcastle Library, though Linda M. Dougherty, USCIS field office director, noted that her department had wanted to hold one in Newcastle since construction began on the library.
It was quite an honor that the library had the opportunity to play a part in such a significant life moment for the 11 attendees, King County Library System cluster manager Amy Eggler said in her welcome remarks.
And Newcastle Library staff members took that to heart, decorating the building’s main meeting room with red, white and blue wall coverings. They also ordered a special congratulatory cake for attendees.
Hazen High School junior Arnelie Dela Cruz opened the festivities with a soulful rendition of the national anthem. Dela Cruz was crowned “The Voice” of the Newcastle Library on July 12; she defeated eight other competitors to get the chance to sing at the ceremony.
During the half-hour ceremony, attendees and their families were treated to a taped video from President Barack Obama, congratulatory remarks from Buri and a speech from Imelda Dulcich, Newcastle Chamber of Commerce executive director.
Dulcich is a naturalized citizen herself, having come to America from Ireland. She told a story about what she called an “embarrassing” family tradition, when her parents would make her and her siblings give concerts and sing traditional Gaelic songs after coming to the States.
She remembers those times fondly, now, and understands the importance of those concerts, she said.
“That’s my heritage I bring with me and all of you have that heritage, too,” she told the new U.S. citizens. “Even though you’re embracing your new country, you always will have the old country in your heart. So, combine them and go forth with your future.”