PLATTSBURGH Their reasons were many but their visions were one to become United States citizens. Thirty individuals from countries stretching from as far the Philippines to as near as Canada were administered the Oath of Naturalization July 11, finalizing their American citizenship. In a ceremony at the Old Courthouse on Margaret Street, those who were once aliens raised their right hands as they pledged their devotion to the democratic nation. Clinton County Clerk John H. Zurlo was first to welcome the new citizens, commending them on their decision to pursue a life that is nourished and enlarged by the grandeur of the American dream. Zurlo applauded the individuals for the hard work they endured to obtain a privilege many are born with and take for granted, he said. America needs you, he said. America needs your citizenship and your fresh perspective on our most difficult and stubborn problems, especially during these troubling times. America needs your cultural contributions and, most importantly, America needs your values and the wisdom forged from your experiences. Zurlo further challenged each to become active citizens whose newly-minted citizenship will help to renew America and to sustain our pride in being the land of the free and the home of the brave. You, by your actions today, have made us a better country, he said. Clinton County Court Judge Kevin K. Ryan, who performed the ceremony, also commended the new citizens on their accomplishments, likening the naturalization process to the adoption process he also oversees in his position. Unfortunately, most people who enter the justice system, do so because of some kind of conflict in their lives, either of a civil or criminal nature, said Ryan. Adoptions are a welcome departure from this situation. In adoptions, I get to see smiling faces, happy families, and I know that a fortunate event has occurred, both for the adoptee and the family. I analogize the naturalization procedure to an adoption, for in reality, all the participants today are joining a new family, the family of the United States. The judge further echoed Zurlos statements about the nation needing the new citizens, remarking the U.S. needs your strengths, your vitality, your knowledge, your imagination, your courage, your belief that life can be better. This ceremony should be a reminder to all of us that the United States is an immigrant country, he said. How easy it is for future generations of immigrants to forget this, to take for granted the opportunities that freedom can possess. Whether the immigrants came from England on the Mayflower or from Vietnam on a leaky boat, whether they were fleeing religious prosecution or a potato famine, there is one thing in common they all share, they sought a better life. In seeking a better life, they constructed a better country. Julieta Hood traveled more than 2,000 miles before obtaining her U.S. citizenship. Hood was born in Mexico City, Mexico, later living in Tijuana where she met her husband, Richard, a U.S. Border Patrol agent. The couple married in 2002 and eventually moved to the town of Champlain where they raise their two children and where she soon began to pursue becoming an American citizen. We decided to have a family so I did it for my husband and my children, Hood said. Im very proud of her. Its hard work, very expensive and a long process. There are lots of checks and balances, but its worth it, her husband said. During the ceremony, Hood said she was overcome with emotion. Im very excited. I almost wanted to cry when we were taking the oath. It was very emotional, she said. The first thing I want to do is register to vote and get my passport. With American citizenship under her belt, Hood, who has concentrated on raising her and her husbands two children, is now interested in pursuing a career with the government of her new country. I would like to work for the Department of Labor, she said. In Mexico, I used to be a human resources supervisor, and I am passionate of labor laws. Dr. Anthony A. Garami, a former resident of Montreal and Canadian citizen, is already living out his dream of practicing pediatric medicine. The now town of Peru resident has been working for Rainbow Pediatrics in Plattsburgh for the past four years, nearly half the amount of time he has been living in the U.S. on a work visa. Its been in the last several years that I wanted to become a citizen, he said. My three children and my wife are American, and I wanted us to be on the same page. Like Hood, Garami also wanted to vote as an American citizen. With 2008 being a presidential election year, he wanted to be sure his voice will be heard, instead of urging his wife, Gloria, to vote for his favorite candidate. He keeps trying to get me to vote for him, Garamis wife said with a smile. Now I can have my vote instead of trying to get a proxy vote, he said, laughing. During the ceremony, Mayor Donald M. Kasprzak urged the new citizens to exercise their right to vote as part of their newfound rights. Ryan further requested that as the individuals celebrated their first day as U.S. citizens, they think about the men and women serving the nations military overseas and pray for their safety. Above all, he wished them well in their endeavors. Whatever your dreams are, I hope they are realized, Ryan said. In your quest for your dreams, you are sure to leave positive mark on your new country and from your hard work, you and your fellow citizens will reap the benefits. In addition to Hood and Garami, those who received citizenship were Sadie Trunck, Azerbaijan; Olga Vaillen, Belarose; Qienmei Fang Kwan, China; Fernando Hurburu, Ecuador; Lamiaa Hamed Mohamed Ali, Egypt; Anton Jones Norwood, Latvia; Yrma Lizeit Babilonia, Peru; Violet Marina LaDuke, United Kingdom; Susan Ingrid Snyder, Trinidad and Tobago; Linh Thuy Phan, Vietnam; Dmitriy Elmanovich and Maria Valentinovna Kissel, Russia; Virginia Donayre Drake, Irna Lasala Soucia and Leonarda Lanzaderas Phair, Philippines; and Sukhdev Singh Brar, Diane Marie Therese Cabana, Darlene Chiosa, Nancy Clark-Gregoire, John Richard Floyd Druce, Darlene Elizabeth Kerrigan, Joseph Steven Wade LaPierre, Francis Vincent Milot, Susan Joan Mueller, Theresa Annette Planty, Cindy Lou Roy Oliver, Barbara Ann Tremblay, Yvette Sargeant and Catherine Elizabeth Van Schaick, all of Canada.