TUCSON, Ariz. — A special Independence Day at Saguaro National Park. 20 people can now call themselves Americans, after going through the application process with their naturalization ceremony. This year, Congressman Raul Grijalva was the keynote speaker at the national park's Fourth of July tradition.
Eva Mortimer is one of the 20 who became U.S. Citizens today at the naturalization ceremony. With 19 countries of origin represented including China, Ghana, Mexico, the U.K. and Afghanistan; Mortimer is from Hungary.
"In Europe, everybody is saying, 'Oh America is paradise.' I had an opportunity, so I jumped on it and here I am," said Mortimer.
She's lived in the U.S. on a green card for 27 years, and in Arizona for 17. She officially applied for her citizenship this past March, and it said it immediately turned into a fast-paced, intense experience. With hours of studying and taking tests, she said she is overwhelmed to finally cross the finish line.
"Amazing! Surreal still, but amazing. It really is a great feeling," said Mortimer.
During the naturalization ceremony, patriotism filled the room as the songs that represent America played, and the county's newest citizens waved their flags. "I'm Proud To Be An American" has a special meaning to Mortimer and her family.
"I got emotional during the Lee Greenwood song. My daughter and I - ever since she was little - her and I always sung it. It's a privilege, it's an honor, it's just everything. You know? This is where my home is," said Mortimer.
This is the ninth naturalization ceremony hosted by Saguaro National Park which has become an annual Fourth of July park tradition with the support and cooperation of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).