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Emotional day for new US citizens

Becky Vargo • Feb 23, 2018 at 8:00 AM

Forty-five new Americans cheered along with their family and friends following a naturalization ceremony Thursday morning at Loutit District Library.

“That’s the only time we want it to be loud in here,” said the Grand Haven library’s director, John Martin.

The new U.S. citizens represented 25 different countries. And they were just over a quarter of the people becoming citizens Thursday and today in Grand Haven. Officials held four different ceremonies in the library’s upper-level lobby.

 

Mayra Jimenez of Charlotte and Tracy Pyles of Belmont brushed away tears during a recording of “America the Beautiful.”

“I’m very happy,” said Jimenez, a former resident of Costa Rica.

Jimenez said she has been in the U.S. for 45 years and just started the naturalization process six months ago “because of money.”

Pyles, who has lived in the U.S. for 11 years, said she started the process as a 10th anniversary present for her husband, Don.

“It’s very emotional,” Pyles said. “It’s a long time coming. I have a great sense of pride.”

Quan Tran, 45, of Caledonia, is from Vietnam. He posed with his parents for pictures after the ceremony.

Anx Tran and his wife, My Trang, pointed out that they had completed the process 21 years earlier and were very proud of their son.

“I applied before, but had a little trouble with the law and had to take care of it,” Quan Tran said. “It is important now that I have a family.”

Anna Liedberg Miron completed her voter registration and filled out a passport following the ceremony. Formerly of Lund, Sweden, the Kalamazoo resident said she didn’t realize she would be staying in the U.S. so long or she might have started the process sooner. She and her husband, Gary Miron, started their family in Sweden before returning to the U.S.

Liedberg Miron said she was motivated to start the process following the last presidential election.

“There’s a lot of good people here,” she said. “We need to fight for our country.”

Loutit District Library started hosting naturalization ceremonies in December 2015. That’s when the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids stopped hosting the event temporarily because of renovations, Martin said. Once the ceremonies returned to the museum, officials decided they would still like to have the occasional ceremony in Grand Haven. 

Martin said another set of ceremonies is planned for April 19-20. 

Over the past three years, including this week’s ceremonies, more than 1,000 new citizens have been certified at the Grand Haven library, Martin said. Each event handles about 45 people and is a lot less solemn than the ceremonies at the Grand Rapids museum, according to Martin.

Countries represented at the Thursday morning event included: Bhutan, 4; Bosnia and Herzegovina, 3; Brazil, 1; Burma, 2; Canada, 4; China, 1; Costa Rica, 1; Ethiopia, 1; France, 1; Guatemala, 1; Honduras, 1; India, 1; Iran, 1; Iraq, 2; Lebanon, 1; Mexico, 7; Morocco, 1; Netherlands, 1; Nigeria, 1; Philippines, 1; Somalia, 2; Sweden, 1; United Kingdom, 1; Vietnam, 4; and Zimbabwe, 1.

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