Naturalization ceremony in Daley Plaza results in 63 new U.S. citizens
“This is the first step in achieving most of the goals I’ve set for myself,” said Sharon Celestine, 20, who came to Chicago from Nigeria.
Lots of exciting stuff happens in Daley Plaza: marching band battles, Christkindlmarkets, the filming of movies like “The Blues Brothers” and “The Fugitive.”
But few events generate more excitement among participants than the naturalization ceremony that took place there Tuesday and resulted in 63 new Americans.
“This is the first step in achieving most of the goals I’ve set for myself,” said Sharon Celestine, 20, who moved to the South Side seven years ago from Nigeria.
Lea este artículo en español en La Voz Chicago, un servicio presentado por AARP Chicago.
She serves in the Army National Guard and is studying aviation management at Southern Illinois University. Her dream is to be a pilot, serve the nation and perhaps fly people commercially one day, too.
Becoming a citizen is key to her plans.
“There’s some programs that I’m trying to look at to be able to fly, and I can’t do it without becoming a citizen due to security issues, so having this opportunity today will be awesome for my future in the long run,” she said.
When she arrived in the States with her mom, a nurse, and her younger brother, they lived with a relative before moving to Wheeling.
“At first, life felt like ‘I’m in the TV,’” she said, noting that much of what she knew of the United States came from watching American television shows.
“My mom said she wanted a better life for us, and I do appreciate her bringing us here,” she said.
Manasi Hajra, 42, is from India originally and was struck when she moved here in 2013 by how safe she felt as a single woman in the United States, to the point where she went out by herself at night — something she wouldn’t have done in India — and relished eating ice cream at 2 a.m.
“Everyone follows the rules here,” said Hajra, a software engineer who lives in Schaumburg with her husband and two kids.
Daniel Camacho, 39, a truck driver from Garfield Ridge who’s from Mexico originally, said he was excited to take part in elections.
“Voting is the way to express my opinion,” said Camacho, who has two kids and one on the way.
Immigrants who become United States citizens are like the Picasso in Daley Plaza, said Rebecca R. Pallmeyer, the city’s top federal judge, who presided over the ceremony.
“When this sculpture was unveiled, people weren’t crazy about it. Many people asked ‘What is it?’” she said, imploring participants to look over their shoulders and check out the Picasso.
“But very quickly it became a beloved Chicago landmark ... and so it is with many new citizens,” she said.
“You may feel uncomfortable at first, and perhaps you won’t feel as warmly welcomed as you should be, but very quickly you will become part of the fabric of this nation and this city,” she said.
The event marked U.S. Constitution & Citizenship Day. This year’s celebration marked the 235th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution.