PLATTSBURGH - Twenty-four individuals from countries spanning the globe are now among the newest United States citizens.
Clinton Community College hosted the Clinton County Supreme Court's annual Naturalization Ceremony July 10, with friends and family of those taking the Oath of Naturalization with them in attendance.
The Hon. Kevin K. Ryan congratulated the two dozen men and women for their pursuit of citizenship. The timing of this year's ceremony, Ryan noted, coincides with the celebration of the Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Quadricentennial, which honors, in part, the life of French explorer Samuel de Champlain.
"[Champlain] showed a tremendous amount of courage to cross a vast and dangerous ocean, to see what this New World offered," said Ryan, adding the explorer faced much adversity and many challenges in his voyage. "And, I'm sure that if we heard from our new fellow citizens about their lives, we would admire the courage it took them to leave their friends, their families and their cultures and, like Champlain, travel into the unknown."
"Whatever your dreams are, I hope they are realized," Ryan told the new citizens. "In your quest for your dreams, you, I am sure, will leave a positive mark on your new country."
Francine Carole Fitzgerald, Rouses Point, was among those to receive citizenship and, for her, it was something she felt was long overdue.
"I've been waiting for a long time. I've lived here in the States for 43 years," said Fitzgerald, who was formerly a Canadian citizen from Quebec. "It was just time to do it."
The evolution of the U.S. government in recent years prompted Fitzgerald to get her citizenship, she said, with tighter restrictions for crossing the U.S.-Canada border being among the changes she's seen.
"I still have relatives [in Canada], so this will just be easier for me to cross back and forth as a U.S. citizen," she said.
Other than that and the ability to vote and perform jury duty when called upon, Fitzgerald said she doesn't think much else will change.
Though she's now an American citizen, there's still some Canadian left in her, she said.
"I still have my accent," Fitzgerald said with a laugh.