Saturday, December 16, 2006

Immigrants pledge allegiance

New citizens being sworn in include four who have served in Iraq. DP

By Yvonne Abraham, Globe Staff LOWELL -- Among the 934 immigrants who raised their right hands and promised to protect the United States against all enemies Monday stood four men for whom that pledge may have seemed redundant.

Ariel Montas, born in the Dominican Republic, spent a year defending the United States in Iraq.

Rayon Everett, born in Jamaica and dressed in desert fatigues, expects to be deployed there in July.

Jose Rodrigues, born in Angola, and Jean Bernard, born in Haiti, each did two tours in Iraq.

"I joined up because it’s my way to give back," said Montas, 25, who was a National Guardsman for seven years. "My parents, my whole family, came here in the hopes of a better life, and we found it."

Immigrants from 83 countries surrounded the four men, all of them packed into the Lowell Memorial to take their oath of allegiance to the United States. Some wore jeans and hoodies, others shiny dresses and hats. As Chief Judge Mark L. Wolf of the US District Court named each of the countries represented, immigrants from those nations stood.

Soon all 934 were standing. When Wolf declared them American citizens, they cheered and shook a sea of little American flags.

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