BY BARRY WARNER
Rockland County Clerk Paul Piperato hosted the Naturalization Ceremony on Friday, December 7, 2012 and administered the Oath of Allegiance to 151 new citizens from 42 countries. Hon. Victor J. Alfieri, Jr. served as the officiating Supreme Court Justice. The veterans of The Marine Corps League advanced and retired the colors plus the keynote speaker was Dr. Ram Nagubandi, Commissioner of the Rockland County Commission on Human Rights. Organ transplant recipients Mr. Michael Prendergast and Ms. Lauren Shields spoke on behalf of the New York Organ Donor Network, Ms. Linda Berns represented The League of Women Voters and Mr. Michael Mark performed several musical selections.
The 151 new citizens were from the following 42 countries: Argentina (1), Barbados (1), Belize (1), Canada (1), Columbia (1), Dominica (2), Dominican Republic (36), Ecuador (5), El Salvador (3), Georgia (3), Germany (2), Ghana (1), Guatemala (2), Guyana (1), Haiti (16), India (14), Indonesia (1), Ireland (7), Israel (3), Italy (1), Jamaica (11), Mexico (2), Nigeria (2), Pakistan (3), Peru (1), Philippines (5), Poland (5), Portugal (1), Russia (1), Saudi Arabia (2), St. Vincent-Grenadines (1), Switzerland (1), Syria (2), Trinidad & Tobago (1), Uganda (1), Ukraine (1), United kingdom (2), USSR (1), Uzbekistan (1), Venezuela (2), Vietnam (1), Yugoslavia (2).
The following remarks were made by new citizens:
• Karin Kluger, formerly of Germany said, “It is a privilege to be a citizen of this amazing country.”
• Amar Singh, formerly of India said, “I am very happy to be a citizen on this special day and I love this country.”
• Norah O’Connor, formerly of Ireland said, “I am very excited to become a citizen and have the great opportunity to vote.”
• Elias Almeida, formerly of Venezuela said, “This is my new home now and it is very important for me to become a citizen.”
• Oksana Krouchek, formerly of Ukraine said, “It means a lot to me to become a citizen, because there are great opportunities for my future and the future of my kids.”
Rockland County Clerk Paul Piperato told The Rockland County Times, “Today is a very significant day as December 7 marks the commemoration of the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the United States entering World War II. It is always an honor to administer the Oath of Allegiance and we have a big crowd of 151 people who are excited about becoming new citizens and being able to register and vote.”
Keynote speaker Dr. Ram Nagubandi, commissioner of the Rockland County Commission on Human Rights said, “I myself was naturalized on December 7, 2000. You have been living in many parts of the world and you came to the America to become citizens. We are grateful to the United States’ soldiers who fight to protect our freedoms. Today is your American dream, a gift of equality and opportunity. You have the power to use your dream to become active, engaged, vote and teach your children about democracy.”
Linda Berns of the League of Women Voters said, “The voter guides are printed free of charge and forums are held to provide information about candidates’ positions on issues. Fill out the forms, go to the polling places and exercise your basic right to vote.”
New citizens are expected to participate in elections and to adhere to the principles of tolerance and understanding towards different points of view, which is the thoughtful basis of the system of government of the United States.