Portland ceremony recognizes young citizens

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PORTLAND — About 80 children and young adults pledged allegiance to country and flag Thursday, March 10, in a ceremony at the Portland Public Library.

The Celebration of Citizenship held by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for children and young adults between the ages of 7 and 22 recognized their status as citizens.

“USCIS periodically holds special ceremonies to recognize and celebrate citizenship, which is generally derived through their naturalized parent(s) or through adoption,” USCIS Public Affairs Officer Paula Grenier said before the ceremony. 

Participants were also awarded certificates of citizenship. Those honored came from Kenya, Iraq, Somalia, Tanzania and Uganda, Grenier said, and now live in Portland, Lewiston and Auburn.

Local author Maria Testa delivered keynote remarks at the ceremony, asking those attending to ignore claims that America’s greatness has diminished over the last few decades.

“From the moment you declare you are American, you are a full American,” she said. “The greatest strength of America has always been its people.”

The ceremony was the first of two in Portland this week. On Friday, March 11, 57 people will become naturalized citizens in a ceremony at the East Elementary School, 195 North St.

Those becoming citizens have roots in 33 countries and reside throughout the state from Augusta to Woolwich, Grenier said.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

Casco Bay High School student Hasna Abdalla recites the Oath of Allegiance during a Celebration of Citizenship held March 10 at the Portland Public Library.