Surrounded by sailors and Navy officers, a Marine brass band, and red, white, and blue bunting, 24 people from 17 countries became new American citizens aboard the guided-missile frigate USS De Wert on Friday. The ship was docked at Promenade Park as part of this week's Navy Week celebration.
After taking the Oath of Citizenship and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, the new Americans were presented with certificates stating they are now U.S. citizens. Many addressed the crowd to share their gratitude.
"My name is Muna Abdi. I am from Somalia. I am happy to be an American," said one woman.
"My name is Subhasree Dasgupta and I am from India," said another woman, her voice shaking with emotion. "I am very proud to be a U.S. citizen."
"I want to thank this nation for opening arms for immigrants," said Mathrine Mazani, who is from Zimbabwe.
Usman Bin Asad, a native of Pakistan, told the crowd, "This is the proudest moment of my life."
Photo gallery: 24 take Oath of Citizenship
The new citizens and their families heard remarks from Judge James Carr, Cmdr. Joseph Thomas, who is the De Wert's captain, and U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo).
Calling attention to a representative there from the League of Women Voters, Judge Carr urged the crowd to exercise one of their most important American rights.
"You can best honor the new citizens today if you are not registered to vote, by doing so," he said.
Also addressing the crowd was PO 2nd Class Ricky Alexander, a boatswain's mate on the frigate who is a naturalized citizen himself, having been born in the Caribbean island nation of Saint Vincent.
One of Petty Officer Alexander's shipmates, Philippines native Trevor Viguilla, became a citizen during the ceremony, which the petty officer third class said will enable him to apply to Officer Candidate School. Mr. Viguilla's family immigrated to America when he was 10, and joining the Navy expedited his road to citizenship.
Miss Kaptur said the ceremony had personal meaning for her because she recalled her Eastern European grandmother's becoming an American citizen.
Her grandmother, who immigrated prior to World War I, came from a community that was then part of Poland but is now in Ukraine.
"We would wish for you every joy that our country can bring," Miss Kaptur said.
The De Wert is one of five vessels that arrived Thursday in Toledo Harbor for Navy Week. It and three others -- the coastal patrol craft USS Hurricane, the ice-breaking tug USCGC Mobile Bay, and Canadian Navy frigate HMCS Ville de Quebec -- are docked near downtown Toledo and will be open for free tours today and Sunday from noon to 7 p.m.
The U.S. Brig Niagara, also in Toledo for the event, will be on display and make a day sail to Maumee Bay today then depart on Sunday morning.
The other ships are scheduled to leave Monday morning.
Navy Week events today include a Heroes in Action 5-km road race that will require closing the Martin Luther King, Jr., Bridge and parts of eight downtown Toledo streets to vehicles between about 7:30 and 9:45 a.m. All access to International Park during that time will be from the Miami Street entrance, city officials said.
The new citizens naturalized aboard the De Wert, listed by country of origin, are:
Cameroon -- Henritta Ebob Tiku Enonchong
Egypt -- Abeer Hassan El Gharbawy
India -- Subhasree Dasgupta, Prabhpreet Singh Tiwana, Renuka Reddy Tudi
Indonesia -- Heri Pranoto
Israel -- Anat Hamutal Levtov
Jamaica -- Florence May Townsend
Mexico -- Carolina Flores
Nigeria -- Solomon Ighodalo Osagie
Pakistan -- Usman Bin Asad
People's Republic of China -- Xi Chen. Lijun Catherine Liu
Philippines -- Violeta Acedera Longworth, Trevor Viguilla
Poland -- Marzenna Joanna Rak Kryskewicz
Russia -- Lada Nikolaevna Fanning, Elena Yuryevna Kindt
Somalia -- Muna Ahmed Abdi
Ukraine -- Viktoria Musgrave
United Kingdom -- Andrew Kenneth Spencer
Zimbabwe -- Mathrine Mazani, Patrick Mazani, Vimbainashe Mazani
Contact Kate Giammarise at: email@example.com or 419-724-6091 or on Twitter @KateGiammarise.