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SOUTHPORT, NC (WWAY) — Being an American citizen is something many take for granted. But a group of individuals who just received the gift of freedom could not be more thankful.

117 people from 52 different countries from Algeria to Zimbabwe took the oath of citizenship at the ceremony that’s part of the annual Fourth of July celebration in Southport.

“Thank you America for all the things you have done for me,” said Mujinga Mpunga who is from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“I’m feeling very excited, very honored, very thankful,” Kuchang Nukchein who was born and raised in India said.

“It’s just so wonderful,” said Nicole McKee who hails from Switzerland. “I just can’t describe it right now.”

“I really wished to come to United States,” said Mohamed Abouelnasr who grew up in Egypt. “I didn’t expect that my dream could happen.”

Abouelnasr said he always dreamed of becoming like the cowboys he watched in American movies.

Julie Tran who moved to America from Vietnam said, “When I owned business in my country, the government controlled everything. Here I can do everything and I pay tax.”

Holocaust survivor Alfred Schnog delivered the keynote address and stressed the importance of loyalty and freedom, something our newest citizens do not take for granted.

“Here you feel more freedom,” Nukchein said. “Nobody bothers you. Whatever you feel like doing, you can do.”

“They have different problems and different situations. In United States, they give a chance for every person,” Abouelnasr said. “You can start from the beginning, or you can find your freedom.”

“In my country right now, it’s more trouble for them,” Mpunga said. “There is war everywhere. It is very, very hard.”

Whether from war-torn nations or countries under political oppression, these new Americans are now united in the land of the free and home of the brave.

The largest percentage of the new citizens came from Mexico. And an entire family from South Korea took the oath together.

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