When the judge said yesterday was a time for celebration, little Joseph Burkley didn t waste any time.
Outside the federal courtroom where his grandfather became a U.S. citizen, the 18-month-old took a little American flag and shoved one end in his mouth. Seconds later, he was running around and waving it excitedly.
Jose Luis Orozco, the tyke s grandfather, said the naturalization ceremony was the culmination of a dream he first had as an 8-year-old growing up in Mexico.
“I came here just to be somebody,” the Paulding, Ohio, man said.
Even though he has lived in this country for more than 30 years, he said it was important to become an official citizen so that he can speak up for his rights and because of his four children, one of whom was injured serving in the military in Iraq.
Mr. Orozco, 51, was one of 27 people to become U.S. citizens yesterday in the Federal Courthouse in Toledo. Bankruptcy Judge Richard Speer presided over the ceremony.
The new citizens included Ngan Thi Dinh, an 83-year-old from Vietnam who came to the United States with family to escape the Communist regime in her native land.
And there were Federico Marticio Calderon and Teofila Lim Calderon, who came from the Philippines in the hopes of making a brighter future for their daughter.
Judge Speer called yesterday “a celebration of citizenship.”
“These people have decided to come live with us. You ... can t get a more flattering commentary on our country than that,” he said.
The 27 new citizens, listed alphabetically by their former country of citizenship, are:
Argentina - Rita Abdul Swade
Canada - Mary Claire Beckley, Kathleen Dianne Madsen, Terry Douglas Madsen
Haiti - Daniella Bertha Joash, Ralph Yves Joash
India - Vignathia Atluri
Jamaica - Janet Rosemarie Harris, Evan P. Lawrence
Lebanon - Nadia Abbas Abdo, Fatima Haidar Fakih, Ahmad Khalil El Orra, Nabil George Haddad
Mexico - Alejandro Dominguez, Jesus Sandoval Garcia, Elizabeth Alvarez Geronimo, Jose Luis Orozco
Philippines - Federico Marticio Calderon, Teofila Lim Calderon, Agsa Bahandi Tharp
Syria - Oula Hashem Alhabian, Nada Taleb
United Kingdom - Anna Siu Lan Chan, Neil Reid
Venezuela - Maruan Mardini
Vietnam - Andy Hoang Dang, Ngan Thi Dinh