100 become U.S. citizens in Mount Vernon ceremony

For 100 people, this was a special Independence Day as they celebrated becoming American citizens.

Gusmer Herbas Rojas was nervous before taking the pledge. “It means a lot because I've always wanted to be a citizen of the U.S.,” he said.

Herbas Rojas is a 21-year-old army specialist just back from Iraq. His father came to the U.S. from Bolivia 20 years ago. The family now lives in Alexandria.

In Monday’s ceremony, 100 candidates from 41 countries joined Herbas Rojas in becoming U.S. citizens. Candidates had to pass English and civics tests.

“We don't want them to study 13 stripes on a flag … we want them to know the meaning of them,” said Luz Irazabal of U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Under oath, they renounced allegiance to their old countries, and swore loyalty to their new. Applause broke out as the official announced “You are now American citizens.”

Speakers urged these new Americans to dream big, live large and make no small plans--after all, this is America. Herbas Rojas is no exception.

His dream is to “have a degree,” he said. “I'm going for criminal justice.”

“That's exciting,” his father Emilio Herbas said. “This is our home.”

Holding his citizenship certificate, he is happy the country he fought for is now truly his own.