Jaheda Guliwala, Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova, Hanif Guliwala, and U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-11) celebrate Hanif’s new American citizenship after a naturalization ceremony at the Fairfax County Government Center on May 23.
New American citizens started off their Memorial Day Weekend in a very patriotic way: celebrating their newfound American Citizenship through a naturalization ceremony.
After participating in a naturalization ceremony in which he recited the Pledge of Allegiance, sang patriotic songs and received a certificate from Fairfax County Supervisors and Representative Gerry Connolly, Springfield Resident Hanif Guliwala said he was feeling very emotional.
“I am from India so democracy is not new to me but what is different in the USA is that it is largely a corrupt-free society where one has the same opportunity as one's neighbor in pursuing one's dream and happiness,” Guliwala said. “This is what makes this nation great and someone like me happy to be a part of it.”
Guliwala was among 100 new citizens who participated in the Sixth Naturalization Ceremony of the Fairfax County Asian American History Project. His wife, Jaheda, joined him.
“I’m very proud of him,” Jaheda said.
The naturalization ceremony was held in celebration of Asian American Heritage Month, which takes place in May, although new citizens of several countries of origins were recognized at the ceremony.
Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova, Braddock District Supervisor John Cook, Connolly, and Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust were among the officials who presented the new citizens with their certificates, honoring them on their newfound citizenship.
Rudra and Shourya Shevlikar, who live in Springfield, came to the United States from India. Both said they are overjoyed and so happy to become citizens of the United States.
“I am just so excited,” said Shourya, a student at Lee High School. “I’m super happy, that’s all I can say.”
His brother Rudra expressed similar sentiments.
“I am proud to become an American,” he said.
Foust led the 100 new Americans in an emotional recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, their first as American citizens.
“You come from many different cultures. You come from many different backgrounds and you bring many different priorities, skills, assets, ways of thinking, and ways of problem solving. That diversity makes us a better community,” Foust said in his remarks to the new citizens at the May 23 event.
Citizens also participated in a heart-felt singing of “God Bless the USA (Proud to be an American)” and were welcomed as new citizens with a video by no other than President Barack Obama.