A wave of emotions as immigrants become Americans: “All the hard work pays off”

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams participates Thursday in a naturalization ceremony for 31 citizenship candidates from 21 countries. (Carol Lawrence, The Gazette/Special to the SOS)
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams participates Thursday in a naturalization ceremony for 31 citizenship candidates from 21 countries. (Carol Lawrence, The Gazette/Special to the SOS)

Children waved tiny American flags and smiled while some adults couldn’t hold back tears Thursday during a naturalization ceremony in Colorado Springs where 31 immigrants became U.S. citizens.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, who regularly participates in naturalization ceremonies, urged the new Americans to register to vote.

“You can be a part of whatever your American dream may be,” he also said.

Thursday’s event at a Colorado Springs library was covered by KOAA TV, which outlined the requirements to become a citizen.

The Gazette’s story features a must-see online display of photos from the ceremony.

Ilia Pektov, a Bulgarian native, and Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams at a naturalization ceremony Thursday in Colorado Springs.
Ilia Pektov, a Bulgarian native, and Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams at a naturalization ceremony Thursday in Colorado Springs.

Among those at the event was Ilia Pektov, a native of Bulgaria and founder and CEO of the Colorado Springs manufacturing firm IP Automation.

Pektov, a 73-year-old who likes to say he plans to retire when he is 95, recently was featured in the Colorado Springs Business Journal.

“It was inspiring to see the support from the new Americans’ families and friends,” William said, of the event. “I enjoyed visiting with many of them afterward, including Ilia Pektov, who was there to support one of his employees becoming a U.S. citizen.”

From the Gazette story, by Tiffany Ditto:

He’s a father, a husband, an Olympian and, as of Thursday, a citizen of the United States.

Mukesh Khatri, was among the 31 citizenship candidates to complete the naturalization process at 11 a.m. at the Pikes Peak District Library 21c, in Colorado Springs.

The candidates hailed from 21 countries and all had their own reasons for coming to the United States, but for Khatri, being a U.S. citizen meant his dreams are that much closer to being a reality.

“It feels great to be a part of the finest country,” he said. “I’m really emotional — I was about to cry. All the hard work pays off.”

The smiles told the story of the emotions of the candidates from 21 countries who took the oath of allegiance to become U. S. citizens Thursday. (Carol Lawrence, The Gazette/Special to SOS)
The smiles told the story of the emotions of the candidates from 21 countries who took the oath of allegiance to become U. S. citizens Thursday. (Carol Lawrence, The Gazette/Special to SOS)