Thirty-nine-year-old Adil Minoo Wadia of Orrville smiled for a photo as he held his U.S. citizen certificate, then went through a receiving line.
"Thank you so much. This is amazing and all these goodies," the native of India said as he shook hands and collected such mementos as a red carnation flower, small American flag, city guide, lapel flag and book of the Constitution.
Wadia was one of 50 new U.S. citizens representing 26 different countries who took the oath Friday afternoon at the Akron-Summit County Public Library. They and their families filled the room.
"I am thrilled and proud," said Wadia, a professor at the University of Akron's Wayne campus. He has lived in the United States for 18 years. "I couldn't apply as a student, I had to get a green card and a work permit. I went through the right channels, but I think I took the hardest path."
The Akron Police Honor Guard opened the ceremony. The ETC School of Musical Arts sang The Star-Spangled Banner; My Country, 'Tis of Thee; and This is My Country. Holy Family Girl Scout Troop No. 122 and Boy Scout Troop One led the group in the Pledge of Allegiance.
U.S. District Judge John R. Adams swore in the new citizens.
He called the Constitution the "owner's manual for the greatest form of government ever known."
He acknowledged everyone's hard work to become naturalized citizens.
"Cherish its privileges such as freedom of speech, religious freedom and the right to have a trial by jury," he said. "This is now your country. You once came as a stranger, but now you are one of us."
Fieke and Jay Bryson of Tallmadge sponsored Abraham Dickson Zabay of Liberia.
Fieke said she is also a naturalized citizen. She and her husband gave him a large American flag.
As he tore through the wrapping to get to the flag, the 27-year-old said this was his proudest moment.
"This is the greatest country in the world," he said. "This is a great blessing."
Husband and wife Adrian and Corina Luminita Bica, natives of Romania, live in Twinsburg. They have been in the United States for 11 years.
"We applied at the exact time we were eligible. It has been a hard process since 9/11," Corina Bica said.
The Bicas are both engineers.
"We got our green card in 2007, but had to wait five years before we could apply," she said. "As soon as the date came up, we applied immediately."
Some experienced tragedies in their homeland, which brought them to America.
Clemencia Tomassetti, 54, left Colombia 18 years ago after her husband was murdered and the factory her parents owned there was burned down. She moved to Miami with her two children, found a job, fell in love and married Robert Tomassetti who was living in Miami at the time. They now live in Wooster.
"I want to vote and maybe even run for office," she said. "I am very proud to become a U.S. citizen."
Anna Nykolaivna Velgush moved to Brunswick 12 years ago to be with her son and his family after her husband died. She was born in the Ukraine and still has other family there.
"She loves it here and still travels to see relatives in the Ukraine," said her granddaughter Halya Velgush, also of Brunswick. "And it's easier for her to travel to the Ukraine with a passport than a green card."
Halya Velgush brought her two daughters, Elliana and Gloria Barchyshyn, to support their great-grandmother.
It was the largest representation of countries in the 26 years that Constitution Day was celebrated in Akron. The countries included Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Burma, Canada, Colombia, Croatia, Dominican Republic, Ghana, Guatemala, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Korea, Laos, Liberia, Morocco, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, U.S.S.R., Yugoslavia and Venezuela.
Marilyn Miller can be reached at 330-996-3098 or email@example.com.
By Marilyn Miller - The Akron Beacon Journal (MCT)
(c)2012 the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)
Visit the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio) at www.ohio.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services