By: Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Thirteen children, ages eight to 14, were sworn in as American citizens today at The Betsy Ross House in Center City.
They hailed from 13 countries, one for each of the 13 colonies that became a part of the Union this day 237 years ago, as well as the 13 stars on the original flag created by Betsy Ross.
“It means a lot to finally become a citizen, I’ve been here since I was three years old,” says Victor George, 13. He came from Ghana with his mother Norefeh Kehnah, who stood with tears of pride in her eyes, watching her George say the Pledge of Allegiance and sing the National Anthem for the first time as an American citizen.
“It’s a just a historical moment and I’m just glad that he’s a part of it on Independence Day,” says Kehnah, who took her oath of citizenship two and a half year ago. “Now he too can partake of all of the rights this country offers.”
“I’ve been waiting a while to become a citizen and I was the only one in my family who wasn’t,” says Joaquin Fernandez-Duque, 10. He was so excited, he got on stage and shared a historical joke for the occasion.
“What’s the difference between George Washington and a Duck,” he says, “One has a bill on his face. The other has his face on a bill.”
Nine-year-old Rachel Grieb wore a blue and white dress and an American flag bow in her hair for her big day. Originally from Korea, she says she became an American at 10-months-old, but did not get her certificate of citizenship until today.
“I’m happy,” she says, “I wouldn’t have a lot of freedom in Korea. And I get to do a lot of cool stuff here.”
Parents John and Sarah Grieb says it took years for Rachel to complete the adoption process and did not take this last step. Now she’ll remember this day for ever.
“I think it’s really neat,” says John, “it’s the birthday of the country and she’s able to represent Korea in this ceremony. I love it.”
According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, more than 7,800 people will be sworn in as American citizens this Independence week in more than 100 ceremonies across the country.
The Betsy Ross House will host historical July 4th festivities the entire holiday weekend, including colonial chocolate making on July 6-7th. For more, go to historicphiladelphia.org.