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More Than 400 Immigrants To Become U.S. Citizens At Seattle Fourth Of July Ceremony

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Courtesy of Jal Schrof/Ethnic Heritage Council
This photo was taken at the 2013 naturalization ceremony.

The Fourth of July will carry a new meaning for 431 people at Seattle Center’s Fisher Pavilion. At noon, candidates will be sworn in as U.S. citizens at the 30th annual naturalization ceremony hosted by the nonprofit Ethnic Heritage Council.

“It’s a great reminder of why we celebrate the Fourth of July. It’s not all about fireworks and picnics; it’s about love for this country,” said Alma Plancich, executive director of the Ethnic Heritage Council.

“I’m a naturalized citizen, and I know the feeling," said Plancich, who herself immigrated from Croatia in the 1950s. "Every year, when I see these people raise their right hand and take that oath, I just get all choked up because it reminds me of mine.”

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Credit Courtesy of Jal Schrof/Ethnic Heritage Council
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Courtesy of Jal Schrof/Ethnic Heritage Council
This photo was taken at the 2013 naturalization ceremony.

The candidates from 70 countries will be sworn in by U.S. Circuit Court Judge Richard C. Tallman. The largest groups of people are from India (57 people), Canada (41) and the Philippines (38). Last year’s largest groups were from Vietnam and the Philippines, Plancich said. The oldest candidate will be an 80-year-old man from Korea.

Ethnic Heritage Council’s event is the only public naturalization ceremony in Washington state on Independence Day.

“I think what attracts them to the ceremony is that it means so much to them,” Plancich said. “I think for them to choose the Fourth of July, it’s a celebration and a relief.  ‘At last, I’ve arrived. And all my hard work has paid off.’”

As tradition, the event will be emceed by Seattle Mayor Ed Murray. It will also feature guest speakers, including U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, as well as other elected federal, state and county officials. There will also be performances from Greenwood Concert Band, Total Experience Gospel Choir, and Native American performers Gene Tagaban, Peter Ali and Swil Kanim. 

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Credit Courtesy of Jal Schrof/Ethnic Heritage Council
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Courtesy of Jal Schrof/Ethnic Heritage Council
This photo was taken at the 2013 naturalization ceremony.

Plancich said the ceremony often serves as an educational opportunity for those in the crowd, such as children brought by their parents.

“It brings in quite a few people who are interested in the process,” she said, adding they get to witness “this amazing event where people from all these countries become one, become one country, become America.” 

The event is produced by the Ethnic Heritage Council, Seattle Center, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.