20 men and women become American citizens

By Sheri Falk - bio | email | Twitter

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) -  A group of 20 men and women born in 16 different countries took the last step in becoming U.S. citizens Thursday at the Federal Courthouse in downtown Hattiesburg.

"I am so happy I could shout," said Franklin Menzies.

Menzies is originally from Kingston Jamaica but has been in the United States for 50 years.

"This is a great pleasure and honor for me to receive this now."

With his wife Shirley by his side, Menzies said, they will soon travel back to Jamaica, only this time he will travel as a U.S. citizen.

For Miguel Cortez 36, taking the oath of allegiance is something he says he will cherish for the rest of his life.

Cortez is originally from Mexico, but has lived in Mississippi and Alabama for the last 14 years.

"It's good because it's something you are doing good for the United States, and I can now vote for the President. Things are going to be better for me and my family."

Most people think about what our country can do for them, but for Alexssandra Clarke, a mother of two, it was all about what she could offer by becoming a citizen.

"For 12 years my husband, who was American, would tell me, 'Honey, you need to become a citizen.' At the time, I did not feel like I could give the country what I must give. You need to offer something before you can be a part of this great nation. My husband passed away last year, and I feel like now I am ready."

Clarke was hoping her new American status would allow her to participate in the Nov. 2. election, but she was not eligible to register in time.

"They just finished I believe last week , I checked, so I will look forward to the next Presidential election."

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