DODGE CITY – The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service paired with the city of Dodge City on June 24 to host a special naturalization ceremony as part of the Kansas Sesquicentennial celebration.
There were 49 applicants from 28 different countries speaking 28 languages who took part in the ceremony held in the little theater at Dodge City Community College. Among these were four Great Bend residents – Edwin Ricenos, Abelardo Cruz, Laura Gonzalez, Veronica Lara – and Griselda Cobb from Haviland.
These five applicants had completed citizenship classes at the Barton Community College Center for Adult Education with Doris Reile-Kneller, instructor.
Jake Hoffman, USCIS officer from Wichita, read the names of each applicant, followed by the Oath of Allegiance. The Honorable Eric F. Melgren was the officiating judge. Jeff Hiers, a local community representative gave the address.
Hiers referred to the original citizenship ceremonies, which took place in 1791. “Like the original immigrants, let go of the past and build on the future. Invest in yourself and be the best citizen you can be,” he said, speaking directly to the applicants.
“Reinvent yourself and if you go down, get up and try again,” he said. “Do not make excuses and do not blame others for your failures.”
Two local DCCC students – David Fisher and Joshua Oberle – provided musical selections, including “The Star Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America.”
Many dignitaries were at the special celebration including representatives from the offices of Sen. Pat Roberts and Congressman Tim Huelescamp, and the local Social Security Service and the Kansas Department of Human Resources.