Saturday, October 9, 2004

U.S. citizenship grows by 70

Three Rivers school continues tradition of holding ceremony

By Anna Guido
Enquirer contributor

Helaine Tasch of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services gives the oath of allegiance Friday.
The Cincinnati Enquirer/ERNEST COLEMAN
GREEN TWP. - Geetha Ramaswamy came to the United States from India in 1983.

Friday afternoon at Three Rivers Middle School, she became a U.S. citizen, along with 69 other immigrants from 31 countries.

"It's something I've been thinking about for a while," said Ramaswamy of Evendale after the ceremony led by U.S. District Judge Susan J. Dlott.

The naturalization ceremony was the sixth to be held at Three Rivers Middle School since 1986.

Nearly 800 people attended, including the student body of 540 sixth- through eighth-graders.

"It's so enlightening for any American, particularly students, to have this experience," Dlott said, shaking the hands of the new citizens as they walked through a line to receive their papers, a U.S. flag and to register to vote.

Dlott, the granddaughter of Russian immigrants, conducts naturalization ceremonies monthly in her courtroom and at schools.

School media specialist Marney Murphy first took a group of students to see a naturalization downtown in 1984, then spent two years working to get the ceremony brought to the middle school.

Murphy, who is still in charge of the event, said more than 4,000 students in the past 18 years have experienced "the importance of citizenship and multicultural awareness."

After the oath of allegiance, Gerda Weissmann Klein, a Holocaust survivor from Arizona, addressed the audience. She spoke of her past and her marriage to a U.S. soldier, and how blessed she is to be a U.S. citizen.

V.G. Ramaswamy was on hand with one of his two sons to see his wife, Geetha, become a citizen.

"Nobody welcomes the immigrants so well as the United States," he said.


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