HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The Honorable Judge Keith Starrett welcomed 24 individuals as citizens of the United States in a naturalization ceremony Thursday in Hattiesburg.
"Most people who are natural born citizens, and I hate to say this, don't appreciate our citizenship as much as you do," Starrett told the crowd.
The group was awarded an American flag lapel by the Daughters of the American Revolution, and Cameroon native Hyacinth Funue Memeh, said it was the best day of his life.
"Today, standing before you as a US citizen, there isn't anything that would have made me to be happier," he said.
Memeh serves in the Navy, which was a lifelong dream.
"Ever since I was a kid, I had this dream of serving in the military," said Memeh. "Wherever I go, I am respected, and America is respected all over the world, so I am."
Starrett told the crowd that naturalization ceremonies are always a happy memory in his career as judge, and he charged the new citizens to make a difference in their communities and country.
"Don't be afraid of going slowly, sometimes things go slowly," said Starrett. "But be afraid of standing still."