Nearly 300 new American citizens take oath at Seattle Center

A moving ceremony on this 4th of July as nearly 300 people from 74 countries became American citizens.

The Naturalization Ceremony at the Seattle Center was live and in-person for the first time since the pandemic.

Two hundred ninety-three foreigners swore the Oath of Allegiance to their new country.

This day is a milestone in so many lives. And it was the perfect day for it; no rain, a few tears, and lots of smiles.

The sounds of patriotism filled the air at the Seattle Center. Nearly 300 people on this overcast July 4 waiting to do what so many have on this Independence Day become U.S. citizens.

There were congratulatory speeches.

“Thank you for showing us your courage,” said Chelsea Riddick-Most, Seattle Center Director of Programs & Events. “Your boldness, your choice to be happy.”

There was some laughter.

“Did you notice the sun came out when you arrived?” joked Gov. Jay Inslee (D) Washington. “You brought sun to the state of Washington. Thank you very much.”

There were a few tears, too.

“And I am grateful to my parents who hung in there for five years and four continents with the dream of America,” said Alma Plancich, Ceremony Project Manager, her voice breaking.

An American dream surely held by those here representing 74 countries.

“And our second largest group today,” announced Anna Corsano, U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services District Director, to loud applause. “The Philippines, 26.”

All of it led to this: “And repeat after me,” said retiring-Chief U.S. District Judge Ricardo Martinez, as those assembled rose to their feet. “I hereby declare, on oath.”

“Today, that’s a wonderful day, amazing day,” exclaimed Gan Douyon, a newly-minted American from Haiti. “I don’t know how to describe it. Everyone, amazing, wonderful.”

“I saw this ceremony before,” said 78-year-old Gita Golias, the oldest new citizen, from the Czech Republic. “So I was hoping it is going to be as beautiful as I saw before and it was.”

“Actually for us, it was not that long,” said Ewa Szalwinska, a Polish American. “Actually like five years, maybe six, actually. But it’s exciting. It’s exciting, very exciting.”

American citizens, at last.

Then many of them performed their first act as American citizens inside the Armory, registering to vote.