GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - No matter what you hear about out of control debt and spending and a sinking economy; remember this: America is still considered the greatest nation in the world by millions who dream of living here.
That is certainly true for the 25 people from 14 different countries who were giddy as they became naturalized citizens Thursday morning in a federal courtroom in Gulfport.
As the William Carey Choir performed patriotic music, Judge Louis Guirola said, "It's not perfect. We have our problems, and we have our ups and downs. But at the close of the day, I have no difficulty saying to you, it is the greatest nation on the face of the earth."
Tuan Tran agrees. He fled violence and oppression in Vietnam 28 years ago. To him, soaring debt and unemployment seem trivial.
Tuan Tran said, "We have the best system in the world. No matter what! Freedom always wins."
The Vandervelde family enjoyed political freedom as Canadians; still they worked hard to become Americans.
Karin Vandervelde said, "Because I've lived here 24 years, and I want to be a part of this great nation, fully."
Her son Jayce said, "I'm glad I'll be able to vote and take part in elections."
Jayce's Dad John Vandervelde said, "I am very, very thankful, very thankful to be a citizen of this country."
Federal Judge Louis Guirola, a native of Cuba and proud naturalized citizen himself, reflected on the heavy price paid.
"The freedom, the privileges and the rights that you will enjoy have been purchased by the blood of patriots, and say a prayer for our men and women, our boys and girls who serve in a foreign land and give their lives and give their best to ensure that sleep every night under the blanket of freedom," Guirola said.
Father Louis Lohan of Ireland is the pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Long Beach. He celebrates 30 years since his naturalization ceremony. He was the honored speaker at this moving ceremony. He urged these new citizens to never take a day in this great nation for granted.
Father Louis Lohan said, "I say it from my heart, from inside I say, 'Congratulations to all of you, and welcome to my country and to your country, God Bless America, Amen!'"
There is a long process everyone must go through to become naturalized. One of the many things is they must be able to pass a test on their knowledge of America. Could you pass the test if you had to earn your American citizenship, to take it click HERE.