National Homestead Historical Park welcomes 23 new US citizens

On Constitution and Citizenship Day, 23 people from 13 different countries were announced as official U.S. citizens at a naturalization ceremony in Beatrice.
Published: Sep. 15, 2023 at 6:28 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - In 1863, current and new U.S. citizens were invited to earn 160 acres of land in America under the Homestead Act. Since then, the National Homestead Historical Park holds a lot of historical significance for many Americans.

Naturally, it served as a “perfect backdrop” for naturalizing 23 new U.S. citizens.

“What’s really unique about Homestead National Historical Park is the homesteading story,” said Amy Ginke, the park’s program manager for interpretation and resources. “This is a great time for new citizens, but also for all of us to think about documenting our own family history - our own story.”

For many, their stories as Americans started at the naturalization ceremony. The new citizens are originally from 13 different countries: Burma, El Salvador, Bhutan, Vietnam, Peru, the Philippines, Somalia, Sudan, the United Kingdom, Cuba, Mexico, Ukraine and Guatemala.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services teams up with National Parks to make the moment special. It took some many years for some new citizens to get to this point.

“I’m from Somalia. I stayed in America almost five years and five months,” said Ridwaan Mohamud, holding his certificate. “I’m happy today.”

During the ceremony, the audience said the pledge of allegiance, sang patriotic songs and listened to congratulations messages from many speakers. Flags from their original countries were displayed behind the stage. The last step to naturalization was saying the oath and receiving the district judge’s signature.

After being fully processed, the citizens can build a new life in America. A mom from Mexico hopes to start a restaurant with her daughters and see her son in Washington D.C.

“I love this country, and I have my family here,” said Josefina Rangel Solorio, smiling next to her daughter.

The 23 new Americans are among 72 that have been naturalized at Homestead National Historical Park. The park hosts the ceremony three times throughout the year: April 22 for National Park Week, June 14 on Flag Day and Sept. 17 for Constitution Day and Citizenship Day.