Southport celebrates biggest Naturalization Ceremony

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SOUTHPORT, NC (WWAY) — Thousands of people across the country will be spending their 4th of July a different way this year, including dozens in Brunswick County.

Southport held it’s 21st annual 4th of July Festival Naturalization Ceremony Monday afternoon. With a certificate, 114 people from 48 countries and 8 regions around the world are now starting a new life here in America.

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“Honestly if it wasn’t for the kindness and generosity of this country, I could either be homeless, dead, or part of their trade,” new citizen, Juan Rendon said.

“It’s excitement and it’s just a feeling that I can’t really explain,” new citizen, Wendy Winfield said.

Hundreds of people attended the ceremony on the lawn in front of the Fort Johnson Garrison House. It was a moment many people like Abraham Polo say they have waited a long time for.

“It was long wait. Sometimes I was very sad. But I pray every day myself so I take the test. I study too much. And then I was a success,” Polo said.

Polo, his father, and eight brothers and sisters are all from Central Africa, but as of today they are all officially American Citizens.

“It is a big event, because like I told you he was the last one to get the citizenship,” Abraham’s father, George Polo said.

Now they, along with dozens of others in the area, can celebrate Independence Day in a new way for the first time ever. For some it is a dream come true, but for others it was the only way to survive.

“The reason why I’m in this country is because I was being threatened back in Columbia with this terrorist group,” Rendon said. “Trying to overpower the government and the way the pay for their escapades is human trafficking, drugs, and blackmailing high class families who have businesses.”

Rendon is from Columbia and says he can’t wait to follow his dreams of becoming a pilot.

“People should be proud of you know, the fact that they live in this country. You honestly don’t know what other people deal with in other places,” Rendon said.

The first thing polo says he’s going to do as an American Citizen is love his country. And as for Winfield, she’s excited for the American dream.

“Honestly all of the benefits. It’s just amazing how you have a lot of freedom and you can just be yourself,” Winfield said.

Monday’s event was the largest Naturalization Ceremony to date, and people in the area say they could not be prouder.