CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — A Naturalization Ceremony was held at the United States District Court in Clarksburg on June 9.

Families, friends, community organizations and government officials gathered to celebrate 31 new citizens of the United States. These citizens came from 23 different countries and all got to enjoy this special day together.

The Honorable Thomas Kleeh, Chief United States District Judge, welcomed everyone in the court before a prayer was said, and posting of the colors was presented by the Robert C. Byrd High School’s U.S. Army JROTC Color Guard.

Once the National Anthem began to play, the room began to fill with everyone’s singing.

As each country was called, the citizens from those countries were asked to stand until all were standing. They then took an oath by saying “I do,” officially making them U.S. citizens. Shortly after, the Pledge of Allegiance was said and a video presentation from President Joe Biden was shown, welcoming everyone home. Senior U.S. District Judge Irene Keeley was the keynote speaker for the ceremony, saying, “I am so excited for them. It is such a privilege to sit up on the bench and to look down on all those new citizens and see their joy, and to see it reflected in the eyes and the faces of all of our native-born Americans who are here to celebrate. I mean, it’s just a wonderful day.”

The new citizens saying “I do,” as they take oath. (WBOY Image)

Joy, laughter, smiles and tears filled the room as every new citizen took turns receiving their certificate from Immigration Services Officer Rhonda Lewis.

Brouj Zaghloul Douglas was originally from Saudi Arabia. While talking with a 12 News reporter, she reflected on her journey up to this point. She said, “there has been a lot going on, it’s been four years since I first came here and started applying for the process, but it was much easier than I thought it would be, and everyone was so cooperative and everyone was so nice in the interviews and the entire process. It was – I would say it was pretty smooth.”

Another citizen named Bastian Rodrigo, a known pastor in the community, also became a U.S. citizen on Friday after coming to America in 2014 from Sri Lanka. He said that he took his journey very seriously because he has been working for the people of America as a pastor. “I am happy today because I work hard and I studied hard and I took it very serious. I’m really happy today, and I’m proud to be a U.S. citizen,” he said.

After representatives from the Senate and House of Representative offices were recognized, and the Colors were retired, everyone was dismissed for a reception. Once the new 31 Americans were fed and ready to go, they got to go to the Harrison County Clerk, John Spires, for voter registration.

12 News welcomes and sends congratulations to the new U.S. citizens.