NSCDA-WV Welcomes New Citizens

Anne Silbernagel is coordinator of the New Citizen Ceremony for NSCDA-WV, a part of Patriotic Services. The official name for the ceremony is Naturalization and Constitution Day. The Colonial Dames, Daughters of the American Revolution, and veterans organizations prepare welcome packets for each new citizen, which are distributed at the end of the ceremony. Elizabeth Stultz and Gail Pitchford assisted the chair in this patriotic, moving occasion. After the induction, new citizens are encouraged to register to vote at a special table set up in the federal building following the ceremony. The Charleston Gazette covered the September 17, 2015 induction ceremony which follows.

(from Charleston Gazette-Mail – Sept. 17, 2015)

Haitian-born Wadson Whistler Jn Louis was all smiles as he stood among 61 people who officially became American citizens on Thursday.

The group, which consisted of applicants from countries all around the world, including South Africa, Iran and Sri Lanka, gathered with friends and loved ones for a naturalization ceremony, which coincided with Constitution Day — a day beloved by the late U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd. The ceremony took place in a courtroom at Robert C. Byrd United States Courthouse.

“This day is a blessing,” the 21-year-old Jn Louis said.

Jn Louis’ path to American citizenship began in 2007 when he moved to Florida. Four years later, he relocated to West Virginia. He’s now in his third year at Marshall University, hoping to become a nurse.

On Thursday, Jn Louis was one of the dozens of people gathered inside the federal courthouse with an ear-to-ear smile.

The normally quiet courtroom was transformed as a joyous hour-long celebration, led by U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin, filled the room with laughter, applause, oaths and salutes to the United States.

Goodwin welcomed everyone in attendance and reminded them of the importance of the day.

“On September 17, 1787 the United States Constitution was signed by 39 brave men who changed the course of the history of the world,” he said. “They established the first government of the people, by the people and for the people.”

Goodwin said Byrd was the author and principal sponsor of the bill that was ultimately signed into law in 2004 by President George W. Bush, establishing Constitution Day commemorating the day’s significance.

The judge, who shared stories about Byrd’s ability to memorize everything from the monarchs of England to the entire U.S. Constitution, directed the audience to watch a short video of Byrd reading the document’s preamble.

Kanawha County Circuit Court Judge Tod Kaufman delivered a welcoming message to the group of new citizens.

“To you honorees — congratulations on becoming citizens,” he said. “You join the most well-known and well-tested democracy in the world at 239 years old.”

In his speech, Kaufman covered a variety of topics, ranging from the refugee crisis in Syria to the importance of American tenets such as the freedom of the press and the right to vote.

“The right to vote may be the most important right you have,” he said, while encouraging the group of citizens to visit a voters’ registration table in the lobby of the building.

The ceremony also featured local real estate developer Jon Cavendish singing “America the Beautiful” and “The Star Spangled Banner.”

Overall, the event was light-hearted in nature, with Goodwin allowing friends and loved ones to come forward and take pictures as he personally welcomed each applicant and handed them a certificate.

Upon her meeting with Goodwin, Natasha Singh, 26, who was born in Guyana, proudly held an enlarged photo she took with her father, Clifton, who was hoping to become a American citizen along with her before he died in March as a result of a massive heart attack.

“He was a true proud American even though he wasn’t an American,” Singh said following the conclusion of the ceremony.

Among the brightest moments of the day was when Cavendish ordered everyone in the room to join him in a sing-along, while encouraging them to become residents of the Mountain State.

“As part of the requirements of becoming a citizen of West Virginia, you are required to sing ‘Country Roads,’” he told the group, as some waved small American flags and gently swayed while belting out John Denver’s ode to the Mountain State. The sing-along was so infectious that even a U.S. Marshal, as well as Goodwin and Kaufman, could be seen partaking.

Following the ceremony, Jn Louis said his first order of business is to call his family and share the news.

“I’ve been waiting for this,” he said proudly.

The following are the individuals, along with their countries of origin, who were naturalized on Thursday:

Rashid Ahmed Abdulai, Ghana; Luz Piedad Alexander, Peru; Fatima Bashir Ali, Niger; Bayan M Alzubi, Jordan; Frank Appiah Annan, Ghana; Juan Sebastian Arboleda, Colombia; Olga Yurevna Baranova Myers, Russia; Roda Salameh Batarseh, Jordan; Houari Bouamoud, Algeria; Naceen Brookover, Jamaica; Mavel Singco Copley, Philippines; Emanuel Moise Crawford, Rwanda; Rutmann Desauguste, Haiti; Arsema Mesfin Desta, Ethiopia; Isaura Rosa Farley, Panama; Kalonda Fataki, Burundi; Roya Ghasemi; Iran; Marilou Malalis Gue, Philippines; Bradley Christopher Hack, Canada; Ramzi Nimer Haddadin, Jordan; Diana Reyes Harris, Mexico; Napatra Jaima, Thailand; Skylett Jia Qian Jiang, People’s Republic of China; Wadson Whister Jn Louis, Haiti; Kereshmeh Kashefian, Iran; Karim Kerdieh, Syria; Nella Kincaid, Canada; Rey Dimalibot Landicho, Philippines; Carolina Lopez Matos, Dominican Republic; Meyling Elizabeth Mitchell, Nicaragua; Kaysha Tatiana Moreno, Panama; Robert Kenneth Murdoch, Canada; Louis Nieuwenhuizen, South Africa; Marelise Nieuwenhuizen, South Africa; Richko Money Ong, Vietnam; Mark Kwame Osebre, Ghana; Renata Rustamovna Padon, Russia; Gayatri Devi Patel, India; Ramanbhai Narottambhai Patel, India; Ushadevi Ramanbhai Patel, India; Yesim Jade Planker, Turkey; Anu Pokharel, Nepal; Vilma Ombajen Price, Philippines; Matilda Rajapakse, Sri Lanka; Dhiraj Raj Ranjit, Nepal; Maria Eusebia Reyes Ruiz, Nicaragua; Anastasia Norkina Rhodes, Russia; Efril Viloria Salvatera, Philippines; Negar Shabab Shahmir, Iran; Nima Shabab Shamir, Iran; Piruz Shabab Shamir, Iran; Moe Reza Shamshiry, Iran; Sanjita Shrestha, Nepal; Natasha Tajwattie Singh, Guyana; May Nwe New Soe, Burma; Anja Taylor, Germany; Suman Thapa, Nepal; Brian Roland Whyte, Guyana; Kerry-Ann Kaylee Wilkinson, Jamaica; Bizunesh Wubie, Canada; Huiqing Zhang, People’s Republic of China.