NEWBURGH - Orange County Clerk Donna L. Benson recently administered the Oath of Allegiance at a special naturalization ceremony held on Friday, September 20th, at the historic Newburgh Armory in the City of Newburgh. The ceremony was presided over by the Honorable Judge Lori Currier Woods, Judge of the Orange County Family Court.
Through the collective efforts of local philanthropist William Kaplan, State Senator William J. Larkin (39th District) and the County Clerk’s Office, Friday’s ceremony was held for the first time at the Newburgh Armory on South William Street in the City of Newburgh.
"Today we stand together as a community to acknowledge and celebrate your accomplishments," said County Executive Diana, who was one of the guest speakers. "In pledging an oath of allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, you have chosen to embrace - and defend - the values of freedom and liberty."
The largest ceremony this year, 147 people, the youngest being 19 years of age and the oldest 78, from 58 different countries took the Oath of Allegiance, the final part of the naturalization process, renouncing all foreign allegiance while pledging to support and defend the American Constitution and laws of the United States.
Clerk Benson said, "Each of you has made sacrifices to be here today, whatever those sacrifices are, we’re glad you made them. We are so proud you have decided to become Americans."
Judge Woods who presided over the ceremony said, "This is one of the truly happy moments a Judge gets to take part in."
Orange County Sheriff Carl E. DuBois welcomed the 147 new citizens on behalf of the men and women of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office and congratulated them on their accomplishment.
Senator William J. Larkin (39th District) spoke to the newly naturalized citizens and described his service in the United States Army, an experience that allowed him to meet people from all over the world. He added, "We don’t want you to forget where you came from."
Assemblywoman Annie G. Rabbitt (98th District) who was also a guest speaker said, "Today is your moment, enjoy every moment you have here."
Other guests included City of Newburgh Mayor Judy Kennedy, City of Newburgh Police Chief Michael Ferrara, City of Newburgh Councilman Curlie Dillard, City of Newburgh Deputy Mayor Regina Angelo, Orange County Legislator Patrick J. Berardinelli, Sr. (6th District) Orange County Legislator Roxanne Donnery (14th District), Assemblyman Frank Skartados (104th District), Town of Newburgh Supervisor Wayne Booth, Town of Chester Supervisor Steve Neuhaus, Town of Newburgh Councilwoman Elizabeth J. Greene, Hon. Judge John Sweeney, Associate Justice of the New York State Supreme Court and Rockland County Clerk Paul Piperato.
Janelle Stiglic, a New York Organ Donor Network Volunteer, asked the new citizens to consider organ donation. She told her story and how her life was saved by an organ donation.
Deputy County Clerk Mary S. Coleman, Deputy County Clerk Mary Beth Greene, Naturalization Clerk Joanne Aversano, along with the County Clerk’s staff organizes ‘A Celebration of Citizenship’ six times a year to welcome and congratulate our nation’s newest citizens at their final meeting.