100 Indiana residents become US citizens - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

100 Indiana residents become US citizens

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INDIANAPOLIS -

On the eve of our nation's 237th birthday, nearly 100 people in Indianapolis entered a new chapter of their lives this morning as United States citizens.

Thursday, when the flag waves and the fireworks ignite, it will hold a new meaning for those who can officially call the United States home.

It was an extraordinary day for a group of people once strangers in a strange land now united under this tent as one. The naturalization ceremony took place at the historic home of 19th century President Benjamin Harrison.

"So it is in our country that we live under one big beautiful tent full of diversity and full of protection for one another. At least we're bound to look after each other," said the presiding judge.

These American freedoms and protections hold a unique perspective for Khaled Ali. He's from Egypt, a country in violent unrest as he sits in peace.

"As you know, my country is going through a great hardship right now and it's a great opportunity to be a citizen of the United States so I can express my opinion freely here. I can practice my religion and I can express my opinion politically freely," said Ali.

But, to maintain that peace and joy, Khaled fights back concern.

"I'm so worried about my family. I hope they are okay because I left them all over there and I hope they are safe right now," said Ali.

Ayo Olufemi is from Nigeria and looking to his future as he cradles one of his twins.

"I'm blessed and I'm happy to be among the selected few," said Olufemi.

But the new U.S. citizens weren't the only ones feeling special today. There was an elite crew--a pint-sized bunch that got to be the first to greet them with a handshake and an American flag.

Kate Drain was one of those children giving one of the most special flags of all - to her father.

"I'm the one and only American citizen in my family and now he's the second," said Kate.

"It's very exciting. We have a family of English and one American. It's going to be a new start for us and looking forward to making it our permanent home," said Andrew.

A new home and a new start at one of the best times of the year.

"I was looking for something special and I think this a special gift for me," said Olufemi.

Nearly 100 people became American citizens today representing more than 35 countries. The biggest contingency came from India with 14 new citizens.

Nationwide, more than 7,800 people are scheduled to become citizens this week during more than 100 special ceremonies in the U.S. and abroad.

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