Mount Vernon naturalization ceremony

(Photo: Mike Conneen)

George Washington's historic estate at Mount Vernon served as the dramatic backdrop for a naturalization ceremony this Fourth of July.

In all, 98 individuals became American citizens during this ceremony, representing 45 countries from around the world.

Lynchburg resident Julian Chris Smith immigrated from the U.K. when he was six. He later served in the U.S. Marine Corps, working as a mechanic on F-18 fighter jets for 20 years.

“Being in the Marines for the length of time that I was and when people found out I wasn't an American citizen, it just was no big deal to me,” he says.

Smith recently decided to make it official. But even now, with paperwork in hand, he says he feels no different.

"I guess I just blended in so well, all I had to do was get rid of the English accent when I was a little kid,” he says.

Marwan Fareed Sadiq escaped from Iraq in 2004. He was targeted, nearly assassinated, for working as an interpreter for Time Magazine in Baghdad.
On Wednesday, he became a U.S. citizen.

Sadiq and his wife live in Woodbridge and he works for the U.S.-sponsored, Mideast broadcasting networks.

“I'm psyched, I'm proud, I'm excited,” he says. “It's an honor I will never ever take for granted.”

All of these new citizens were told their stories represent America's story - a 236-year-old melting pot stirred up by the nation's forefathers.

“Today we celebrate the independence they risked everything to gain,” said Cecelia Munoz, White House Domestic Policy Council director. “And we commemorate the first gen of men and women who were not born American but became American.”