New American citizens accept certificates


Reporter - Kathryn DiGisi

Even in the wake of a horrendous national tragedy, America is still considered the land of the free and the home of the brave.

On Friday, the auditorium at the SIU Law School was filled with 63 of the United States' newest citizens and their friends and family.

Walking across a stage and receiving a certificate from a judge is the end of often years of becoming an American citizen. And with that certificate comes a deeper understanding of our nation's flag.

Their reasons for coming to America are just as diverse as the countries they were born in.

Aiden Xu came over from China with his family in search of a better life.

"A little bit scared, after all, the culture is very different. And I did have some culture shock," said Xu.

At only 21-years-old, he is the youngest and the first in his family to become a citizen.

"To be a citizen means a lot. After all, you get more rights, but you also get more responsibilities," said Xu.

Penny Shaw says her heart is what brought her 30 hours from her childhood home in Australia.

"I didn't come here because I was escaping religious persecution...I came here because I fell in love with an American man," said Shaw.

She has studied our nation's foundation, and now as a citizen, wants to be an active part of its future.

"The founding fathers had such an amazing vision for this country and I feel like that having lived here for 14 years, so many of these values are really being compromised," said Shaw.

After years of studying and tests, her citizenship is finally official.

"I felt honored that I could be part of the American team now. You know, I feel like I'm on the team now!." said Shaw.

All 63 new citizens know their journey is just beginning, but they have already mastered one crucial American quality.  Pride.