BANGOR, Maine — Nicolas Lux Soc of Palermo will celebrate his 53rd birthday Saturday as a citizen for the first time.
He was one of 24 men and women from 14 countries who raised their right hands Friday morning and swore allegiance to the United States of America in U.S. District Court.
Cameras snapped as the new citizens smiled broadly and received their certificates of citizenship. Each individual also was given a tiny American flag and information about registering to vote in Maine.
A native of Guatemala, Lux Soc came to the U.S. 20 years ago. Six family members and nearly a dozen friends, including representatives from H.O.M.E. in Orland who helped Lux Soc settle in Maine two decades ago, came to Friday’s ceremony to offer their congratulations.
Lux Soc is a maintenance worker at the Palermo Consolidated School, according to his wife, Becky Lux Soc, 39.
“It means a lot to me for him to become a citizen,” she said after the 40-minute ceremony. “It’s going to change his life and I guess my life, too.”
Nicolas Lux Soc declined Friday to describe how he came to the U.S., but family members described his journey as “arduous.”
Richard Huntley, 44, met his wife, Sumita Huntley, 42, a native of Thailand, through an online dating service about four years ago while she was studying engineering in Canada. The couple resides in Bangor. He works at the Bangor Daily News and she is studying at Husson University.
“I love this country and I marry a beautiful American man,” Sumita Huntley said when asked why she wanted to become a U.S. citizen.
She said she was looking forward to voting in the election. Although Sumita Huntley did not reveal her choice for governor, she said she was “conservative.”
“It matters little in this country what it was that brought you here,” U.S. District Judge John Woodcock said. “Whether you came here for love, for opportunity, or for freedom, it makes no difference. In the United States, it does not matter who you were; it matters who you are. You are now free to do what you want, to say what you want, and to become the person you want to be.”
Woodcock advised the new citizens to share their values, language, art and recipes with their fellow Americans. He also urged them to write down their journeys to citizenship for future generations.
The countries represented at Friday’s ceremony were Australia, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Burma, Canada, the People’s Republic of China, Guatemala, Jamaica, the Philippines, Romania, Somalia, Sudan, Thailand and the United Kingdom, the judge said.