A Hawaii celebration for 50 new US citizens - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

A Hawaii celebration for 50 new US citizens

Senator Daniel Inouye Senator Daniel Inouye
Mufi Hannemann Mufi Hannemann
Edson Martinez Edson Martinez
Wai Yan Lam Wai Yan Lam

By Paul Drewes - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - For many immigrants, becoming a US citizen is something they've worked for, for months even years. And on Thursday, dozens achieved their American dream.

There is plenty of pomp and circumstance at the State Capitol.

But the ceremony is not for visiting dignitaries. Instead, its just for your average American citizen.

"It is my pleasure to present 50 applicants for admission to citizenship," announces Susan Teruya, with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services.

On this 50th anniversary of statehood, 50 of the newest American citizens were greeted with applause and well wishes.

"My fellow citizens...My fellow Americans...Aloha," said Senator Daniel Inouye.

From 16 different countries they came, each determined to become a part of the United States. And on this day they are welcomed by Hawaii's leaders.

"If you are here and part of America and you embrace the spirit of aloha, we say e komo mai, welcome," said Mufi Hannemann, the mayor of Honolulu.

Edson Martinez, has lived in the US for ten years after coming from Mexico. He would already be considered a patriot, as he serves in the US Army.

But now, after becoming a citizen, even a simple patriotic gesture, like saying the pledge of allegiance means much more.

"Before I felt like I wasn't an American because I wasn't. I was a Mexican citizen. Now, it will feel like I am a part of the United States cause I am citizen," said Martinez.

For the youngest new citizen, this ceremony is an important occasion not just for her, but also for her family. Because of the struggles they have gone through just to get to this day.

"This country has done so much for us, we came here with close to nothing. I feel like this is my country now, I am an American citizen," said Wai Yan Lam, who was originally from Hong Kong.

"I am so proud to call you my fellow citizens, welcome and aloha," added Inouye.

Now that she is a citizen, Wai Yan wants to be able to sponsor other family members in Hong Kong to become citizens. And she hopes one day her mom will also become an American, just like her.

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