One by one they rose to swear their loyalty to the United States, from their seat in the Berman Center for the Performing Arts to their feet, from the past to the future.
Over 200 Michigan residents from 47 countries were given American citizenship Friday during a naturalization ceremony held by the Michigan Secretary of State's (SOS) Office.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Detroit District Director Mick Dedvukaj helped call the ceremony to order by reading off where the residents emigrated from, including all six continents besides Antarctica.
"I think almost everyone here can attest to the fact that America really provides opportunities that no other country in the world can provide," said Dedvukaj, "I think (citizenship) is one of the best things that anyone can do in this country."
According to Dedvukaj, each person was interviewed by an officer of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration services in order to ensure a working knowledge of the English language as well as American history and civics. Dedvukaj added that he moved to Queens, NY, after emigrating from Albania at age one.
Michigan Eastern District Judge Gershwin Drain gave the oath of allegiance and spoke afterwards to the magnitude of the ceremony.
"There are days in our lives that we will never forget," Drain said. "You represent a lot of different countries and a lot of different ages. You will add beauty to our country."
Tapper's Diamonds and Fine Jewelry owner Steven Tapper delivered the keynote address, speaking of the importance to give back to the community despite a lack of obvious incentive. Tapper also discussed a local family of Holocaust survivors who emigrated to the U.S. and succeeded.
"They saw the opportunity and they made businesses for themselves and became a successful and important family in our community," Tapper said. "With every choice, there is an implied responsibility and with every opportunity there does come obligation."
After listening to a prerecorded message from President Barack Obama and singing patriotic songs, many of the new citizens filled out voter registration, Social Security and passport forms, while others took pictures to show off their signed certificates.
Pushpa Patel of Clawson said that she lived in the U.S. for 40 years before making a commitment this year to become a citizen. Patel took photos with Drain afterwards with a happy smile.
"I'm very emotional," Patel said.