Virginia city holds big citizenship event

Sept. 30, 2008 at 8:25 PM
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NORFOLK, Va., Sept. 30 (UPI) -- More than 440 men and women from 90 countries were sworn in as U.S. citizens in Virginia this week, officials said.

The 446 men and women represented the largest batch of immigrants to take the oath of citizenship in Hampton Roads, Va.

The (Norfolk) Virginian-Pilot reported Tuesday there were so many people that the naturalization ceremony had to be moved from the nearby courthouse to Chrysler Hall.

The newspaper reported that a typical turnout for such ceremonies, which are held monthly in Norfolk, is fewer than 150 people.

A federal judge told the new Americans they now stood "shoulder to shoulder" with their countrymen.

"We are all a composite of our past, our present and our future," said Judge Rebecca Beach Smith, "and you are the future of the United States."

She called on the new Americans to vote.

"Each of you are now on free soil. Your children and your grandchildren will grow and prosper on free soil... Vote. Guard yourself against many of the things you have left behind," Beach said.

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