Nearly 200 new Americans take oath at Mount Rushmore - KOTA Territory News

Nearly 200 new Americans take oath at Mount Rushmore

What better way to celebrate the Fourth of July than gaining your U.S. citizenship. Ceremonies at Mount Rushmore National Memorial Wednesday christened 195 new American citizens.

They came from 51 countries; from Algeria to Vietnam. They studied for over a year to qualify for the oath of allegiance.

Federal Judge Jeffrey Viken and state Judge Robert Gusinsky, himself a naturalized citizen, urged the new Americans to strengthen the country with their diversity.

Two Sioux Falls women, Catholic Sister Maria Elena and mother of three Decontee Philips, look forward to their new duties.

"This is my country now," Sister Elena of the Adoration Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, said. "I am happy to be serving my people, in my country and I am happy, very happy, for that."

Philips echoes Sister Elena's sentiments. "I free, it is so important in my life to be a citizen because ... I like everything .. I don't know what to say else."

Wednesday's naturalization program was the largest yet conducted at Mount Rushmore.

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