Naturalization ceremony brings 32 new citizens

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Individuals from 17 different countries became United States citizens in a naturalization ceremony at the Federal Courthouse in Hattiesburg on Thursday.

"I'm feeling amazing," said Christine Pierce, who is originally from Mexico. "This has been a long journey for 14 years, finally this is over."

Pierce's husband said that his wife's naturalization has been a family effort, dedicating time, energy and money for her dream of becoming a citizen to be fulfilled.

"I love America, so I'm very, very proud to be American," Pierce said.

There were 32 participants in Thursday's ceremony, and Judge Michael Parker said it is one of his favorite things to participate in as judge.

Parker said the irony of the ceremony being held on 9/11 shows a "stark contrast" in events because the citizens Thursday chose "to become a part of us."

"I feel like I'm finally part of this country," said South Korea native Gun Lee.

Lee was joined by fellow members of the United States Air Force, a commitment he made 10 months ago.

"It's a big thing for me and especially my commanders here," said Lee. "It's a real honor for me."

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