RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — It was an extra meaningful July 4th for a group of people celebrating their first day as U.S. citizens.
A naturalization ceremony was held Tuesday afternoon at the state capitol.
The Star Spangled Banner sounded a little sweeter to 30 people who have worked for years to call the U.S. their home.
“I came to the United States to better my family and better myself,” said Leon Edwards, one of the new citizens at the ceremony.
Edwards and his family are from Jamaica. He spent years away from his wife and children while working to gain citizenship.
They’re all together now, and because of his daughter’s age, she became a citizen alongside him.
“I love you, Dad, and I am very appreciative for you. And Happy Fourth of July America!” said Leon’s daughter, Leanna.
Part of the naturalization ceremony included taking an Oath of Allegiance. Surrounded by family and friends, new citizens from 12 different countries pledged themselves to the United States this Independence Day.
“I love this country and I bring all of my family here,” said new citizen Esam Saleh.
Saleh is from Jordan and his family couldn’t be prouder of what he’s achieved.
“I always looked up to my dad because he always worked very, very hard for us,” said his son Farouk Saleh.
While family members were in abundance, friends also came out to celebrate the big day.
“It’s amazing for a person to get their citizenship in the United States. I think it’s something we definitely have to celebrate and celebrate more,” said Malonda McNair, whose friend was becoming a citizen.
The ceremony in Raleigh was one of many across the country on the 241st Independence Day.