Surrounded by many of her family members, including a small great-grandchild, Mary Whorway Moore became a U.S. citizen yesterday - after more than eight decades of Liberian citizenship.
With a cane in one hand, and a scarf on her head to match a light purple dress, family matriarch Ms. Moore, 81, smiled and posed for pictures after she accepted a certificate during a naturalization ceremony in U.S. District Court in Toledo. Three dozen people from 22 countries were naturalized.
"I love America," Ms. Moore said, as she and 10 of her relatives gathered outside the courtroom.
The process of becoming a citizen was a long one for Ms. Moore, who said it took six years from start to finish. Many of her children are still in the midst of the application process.
Yesterday's celebration for Ms. Moore followed another lengthy journey which started in the late 1980s after she fled war-torn country Liberia. Some relatives immigrated to the United States before her; others followed. They now reside in Detroit and cities in Maryland and Minnesota.
Teresa Lynn Neiswander, 44, also was surrounded by family, friends, and co-workers at the ceremony. A former Canadian citizen, Ms. Neiswander met her husband, Michael, more than a decade ago when the two were working for the same company. She was based in Toronto; he was in Rochester.
They later married and now have three children, ages 10, 9, and 7. She said it was important to become a U.S. citizen, largely because of their children.
Sheriff James Telb, who was the speaker at yesterday's event, recalled his own appreciation and knowledge of the immigration and citizenship process.
A century ago, his grandparents came to America from Lebanon. They were a small minority in the country at the time, he said.
The couple brought with them values of honesty, integrity, and putting family first - values he said they were quick to instill in their children.
He added that the country stands for things such as "peace, safety, and tranquility," and those men and women in public service - like himself - try to maintain those qualities for residents.
District Court Judge James Carr, who presided over the ceremony, said that citizenship is an important role. He also urged them to take advantage of their new right to vote.
"Whether we're citizens by birth or choice, we should all leave this ceremony knowing [citizenship] is to be cherished and honored," the judge said.
Those naturalized and their countries of origin were:
Canada - Teresa Lynn Neiswander.
Egypt - Mohamed Soliman Shehata.
Finland - Iram Sisko Lehtovuori Scheufler.
Ghana - Leticia Asante.
Haiti - Eddy Severe Bruno and Nelson Kerilus.
India - Chandramallika Ghosh, Debasis Ghosh, Satyen Harish Matani, and Nileshwari Jagdishchandra Shah.
Iran - Mehdi Pourazady.
Iraq - Leith Aziz Kellow, Dadia Murad Makky, Sadia Murad Makky, and Sowad Albert Sagman.
Korea - Chanhwa Jacobs.
Lebanon - Susan Rammal Assi, Zeinab Yassine Haouili, Fatme Khaled Saleh, and Jamila Hassan Saleh.
Liberia - Mary Whorway Moore.
Malaysia - Lee Kheng Beh.
Mexico - Magdalena Hernandez Sagrero and Ricardo Sandoval Torres.
Nicaragua - Linda Linsen Jiron.
Nigeria - Taiwo Oheosa Ngo and Christian U. Onubogu.
Panama - Priti Maheshbhai Patel.
People's Republic of China - Mei Hui Chen.
Peru - Irma Viviana Stromer.
Philippines - Vivian Maria Plan Hobayan.
Poland - Antoni Jozef Kos.
Taiwan - Allan Lung-Hao Chang and Lina Hui Hua Hsieh.
United Kingdom - Estha Anne Pyke and Neil David Whitehead.
Contact Kim Bates at: