STILLWATER, N.Y. - The Fourth of July is also a day of welcoming to the nearly 8,000 candidates becoming U.S. citizens nationwide and around the world.
A local Naturalization Ceremony took place Thursday in Stillwater, as 19 individuals became official citizens of the U.S.
With the firing of guns in old Americana fashion, the Caturalization Ceremony at Saratoga National Historic Park started; a ceremony 23 years in the making for Pedro Ramirez.
"I never thought in my wildest dreams that I was going to be an American citizen, but here I am," said Ramirez. "I now I feel I am completely here. Before this, I felt I was between two points, but now I'm here."
Ramirez was born and raised in Venezuela. His longtime girlfriend Michaela Bartakova is from Czech Republic and hoping that next year is her year to become a U.S. citizen.
"This is really more emotional than I expected it to be," she said. "In a way it touches a very deep chord in you, it's just a very special event."
After Ramirez and 18 others pledged their commitment to their new country, one by one each received their official certificate of citizenship to cheers and applause.
"I am very happy, very proud," said Ramirez. "Like everybody else, I will put my effort into making this country better."
As the ceremony came to a close, a final reminder was given to the new citizens to get involved in their new community and, most importantly, to vote.
After the ceremony, it's time for Ramirez along with his friends and family to celebrate the 4th of July the American way, with a good old-fashion barbeque.