By Matt Youngfrau
MONTICELLO September 24, 2002 "America, What a Country!"
Though that comment came from comedian Yakov Smirnoff in the 80s, that sentiment was shared by 31 new American citizens on Friday, September 20.
The new citizens were attending their final hearing for naturalization, which was held at the Lawrence H. Cooke Courthouse in Monticello. Since the ceremony was restarted by County Clerk George Cooke about two years ago, this was the fifth naturalization ceremony.
"This has been a special week. It is Constitution Week," remarked presiding Judge Mark Meddaugh. "We are a family of United States citizens. It is a very large family. You play a unique role in making America strong. You are now a part of the greatest nation in the world. I hope you will continue the proud tradition."
"We are all equal here," stated new Sullivan County Supreme Court Judge Nicholas Clemente. "It is so wonderful that you come to a land of opportunity. You work hard, and you will succeed. You will make us proud."
"You are 31 of the newest citizens of the greatest nation in the world," commented Appellate Court Judge Anthony Kane. "I see that you have come from 24 different countries. It is what makes this country a unique place. You came here seeking a better life. Take advantage of the opportunities."
Each new citizen took the Oath of Citizenship, and all received their Certificate of Naturalization. The new citizens are:
Margaret Hannah Barrett, Zoran Belcic, Abdelaziz Benadim, Nazmi Brahimaj, Marcos Eulogio De Miranda, Yorlenny Detres, Marcello Di Iorio, Jose German Fuentes, Luz America Garcia De Alvarez, Kathryn Mary Gillett, Carlos Gomez Pomeda, Chung Me Han, Jung Uh Han, Jose Antonio Huaman, Kyong Hui Ionta, Jose Ezhavankattu Ipe, Abdelnour Sulaiman Kassis, Maroun Kattoura, Eun Hye Lee, Yong Lee, Leonardo Magno Di Miranda Magalhaes, Declan Martin Moylan, Pallavi Manishkumar Patel, Banmatee Persaud, Jesus Rendon Ponce, Ocelia Isa Reiter, Rhina DeJesus Saravia, Sead Tiganj, Hua Long Yang, Rodica Valentina Zylstra and Alfred Josef Loeser.