Seattle had a rare moment of sunshine as 293 new Americans came together in a naturalization ceremony Monday afternoon on the Fourth of July. 

It was warm enough that babies slept on their parents’ shoulders and dogs panted in their owners’ shadows.

Hosted by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the ceremony, held at the Seattle Center, was back in its full form, after the COVID-19 pandemic caused officials to cancel it in 2020, and in 2021, it was socially distanced. 

State officials, including Gov. Jay Inslee and U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, along King County Executive Dow Constantine and Chief U.S. District Judge Ricardo Martinez, were part of the ceremony. 

Immigrants from 74 countries in total (with many from Canada, the Philippines and India) were present. 

YeeCheng Chin, originally from Hong Kong, said it was an exciting day for him. To celebrate, his friends Hillary Eason and Goutham Sheshadri printed shirts with Chin’s face on them: “Chin up America,” it says. 

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Gary O’Neil and Denise Ness were there to support a couple of younger church members from Rwanda who attend Hillside Church in Kent.

“I don’t think there’s a better way of celebrating Independence Day, than welcoming those who choose to be Americans,” O’Neil said.

Sam Lamichhane from Nepal was excited because, he said, becoming a citizen means he has more career opportunities. Back home he was enlisted with the military; now he thinks he might enter law enforcement.