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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

New U.S. citizens welcomed in naturalization ceremony at Fort Vancouver

By Carlos Fuentes The Columbian (Vancouver, Wash)

Ryan Tan arrived in Vancouver in 2015 as a teenager from China and enrolled at Union High School as a junior.

“I barely spoke English,” Tan said. “It was a tough time, but after you live here long enough, you get used to it.”

After high school, Tan stayed in Vancouver. He is now studying entrepreneurship at Washington State University Vancouver.

But on Thursday morning, Tan wasn’t in class; he was at Fort Vancouver to officially become a U.S. citizen.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and Fort Vancouver National Historic Site hosted a naturalization ceremony at the Historic Hangar at Pearson Air Museum, where 40 individuals from 19 countries completed the Oath of Allegiance and became U.S. citizens.

“It feels like having a new life,” Tan said. “Life continues as normal, but just becoming an American today. I’m glad that I passed everything. I’m happy today.”

More than 50 friends and family members filled the hangar, many carrying miniature American flags and flowers in celebration, as the Vancouver Community Concert Band filled the air with patriotic music before and after the ceremony.

During the ceremony, the 40 new citizens recited the Oath of Allegiance and stepped up to receive their Certificate of Naturalization from Margaret Rosenast, Portland field director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

The new citizens hail from Europe, Asia, North America, Africa and Australia, and all live in the Vancouver area.

Some are new to Southwest Washington, while others have lived here for years, such as Ana Wagner from the Republic of Georgia.

Wagner moved to Vancouver in 2014 to live with her partner. Nine years, two kids and a pandemic later, Wagner became a U.S. citizen with her family supporting her at the ceremony.

“This is great, so now we can go travel together without that extra paperwork,” Wagner said. “(We’re) really happy. This is a great location. Everybody’s happy.”

Since 2006, Fort Vancouver has hosted a dozen naturalization ceremonies and hopes to host more, according to park Superintendent Tracy Fortmann, who gave a speech during the ceremony.

“It seems fitting that as you embark in a new life as an American citizen, you’re here today in a national park, which is provided not just to you but also for your children and your children’s children,” Fortmann said.