By Matt Youngfrau
MONTICELLO August 17, 2001 The United States of America was built on the backs of immigrants, many of whom came to create a better life for themselves and their families.
On Tuesday, August 14, Sullivan County got a chance to participate in some of that continuing history, as 23 new citizens were welcomed to this country at a Naturalization Ceremony held at the Lawrence H. Cooke Courthouse in Monticello. It was the first swearing-in ceremony in Sullivan County since 1955.
"Patriotism is not the fear of something, patriotism is the love of something," County Clerk George Cooke stated in his remarks. "Yesterday, it was a great day in this country. Today is a greater day."
"Welcome to our large and growing family," United States Congressman Maurice Hinchey stated. "With a full heart, I welcome you here."
About 90 people came out to witness the ceremony. All 23 who were sworn in are Sullivan County residents. Cooke conducted the swearing-in, but naturalization certificates were given to the new citizens by all four county judges: Anthony Kane, Burton Ledina, Frank LaBuda, and Mark Meddaugh. They were then serenaded by students (age 5-12) from the Narrowsburg campus of the Sullivan West School District.
"Take advantage and do things that we take for granted," Meddaugh told the citizens. "Be a part of the community. Make a change."
"This is a great place you are in," LaBuda stated. "This is a great land of opportunity."
After the certificates were handed out, the citizens received a standing ovation. The new citizens are Apeksha Arvink Kumar Amin, Aghmad Kowi Asiah, Blanca Dora Blandon, Sheila Theresa Caycho, Nicolas Herve Gilles, Nilceia Alvarenga Heal, Anna Jaromionek, Roman Kania, Veronica Lee, Maria Aleyda Martinez, Dorren Rose Murray, Matthias Onumarjuru Ndulaka, David Nissan, Shin Sook Paik, Maria Candida Pasupuleti, Maria Del Rosario Ponce, Richard Lansford Prescod, June Valdez Quitan, Randalpho Delo Simms, Cecylia Szeflinski, Yoriko Suzuki, Vadim Syrovoy, Phoebe Valdez Quitan Torres, Drane Ulaj, and Wojciech Sikorski.