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85 People Become Citizens at Old Courthouse

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Sanaa Odah from Iraq, takes the Oath of Allegiance to become a United States citizen during a special Flag Day naturalization ceremony at the Old Courthouse. (UPI Photo/Bill Grenblatt)

By Kevin Lavery, KWMU

St . Louis, MO – Some 85 people became American citizens Monday at a ceremony at the Old Courthouse in downtown St. Louis.

In the courthouse rotunda, replete with draped flags and bunting in honor of Flag Day, a diverse group from 35 countries pledged their citizenship to the United States.

Joseph Mua came to America from Cameroon. "I wanted to enjoy the land of milk and honey, which is better from where I came," he said. "Things are certainly better here; for example, education and to be able to do self-improvement."

The new citizens ranged in age from 18 to 79. Many reflected St. Louis's sizable Bosnian and Vietnamese populations.

Research scientist Chen Lu is originally from China but has lived in the U.S. since 1996. He says though recent events have cost America some prestige in the world, he still wanted to become a citizen.

"If you go to other countries, they see American people really differently from before. But, I think this country can be changed; can still be better and better. I think we still have a chance."

Federal officials say an estimated 1,300 people become naturalized citizens in St. Louis each year.

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