The Seattle Times

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Alan Berner / The Seattle Times
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Thursday, January 2, 2014

2013 Pictures of the Year

CELEBRATING CITIZENS
July 4
During the 29th naturalization ceremony at the Seattle Center, Naomi Wachira of Kenya weeps for joy after taking the oath of citizenship, along with hundreds of other immigrants.
Every Fourth of July at Seattle Center one of the most special local, public and free events takes place. It’s the swearing in of new citizens during the annual naturalization ceremony. This year almost 500 from 87 nations took the oath. The candidates are seated in rows facing a raised stage. Once the speeches began I had to kneel in front to not block people’s views. Naomi Wachira was in the front row. She had a dramatic puff of red hair. I chose to be in front of her because, as the ceremony proceeded, it was clear it was a bittersweet occasion for her. When the oath was taken, tears formed and slowly rolled down her cheeks. Around her I could see a range of emotions, ages and faces. We all get to share in how special the moment is for all present — and it’s on the Fourth of July. — Alan Berner