GOSHEN - Orange County Clerk Donna L. Benson administered the Oath of Allegiance at a naturalization ceremony recently hosted by the New York State Supreme Court on Main Street in Goshen, presided by the Honorable Robert A. Onofry, Justice of the Supreme Court of the State of New York.
"Congratulations," said Orange County Executive Edward A. Diana. "We are honored that your first few moments as a U.S. citizen are here in Orange County. Good luck to all of you!"
Sixty-six people from 26 countries, aged 18 to 79, took the Oath of Allegiance, the final part of the naturalization process, renouncing all foreign allegiance while pledging to support and defend the American Constitution and laws of the United States.
Clerk Benson said, "Whether you have been here a long or short time, you have all made great sacrifices to be in America. You have left your homes, your businesses, your families and friends. Although we know that this must have been very difficult, we are glad that you are here with us today."
Judge Onofry discussed how his family had immigrated to America a hundred years ago from Italy. He said, "Our different nationalities and ethnicities is what makes America great. Here, there is hope and promise of a better life for you, and for those generations to come."
The Honorable John K. McGuirk, former Justice New York Supreme Court was the main guest speaker and shared his experience of adopting his daughter from Korea, noting that she was naturalized as a five-year-old 36 years ago this past October. "We call it her Citizenship Day, and we still celebrate every October 4th to mark this memorable occasion. Today, I offer you my heartfelt congratulations on your Citizenship Day."
Other elected officials participating in the Naturalization Ceremony included Assemblyman Frank Skartados (AD 104), Assemblyman James Skoufis (AD 99), Mayor Joseph E. D’Onofrio of the Village of Highland Falls, and Patty McMullen, representing New York State Assemblywoman Annie Rabbitt (AD 98).
Guy Peifer, a New York Organ Donor Network Volunteer, asked the new citizens to consider organ donation, as he explained how his own organ donation saved his brother’s life. The New York Organ Donor Network is now part of the Orange County Naturalization Ceremony.
Deputy County Clerk Mary S. Coleman, Deputy County Clerk Mary Beth Greene, along with the County Clerk’s staff organize ‘A Celebration of Citizenship’ six times a year to welcome and congratulate our nation’s newest citizens.