TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Thousands of new American citizens took the oath of citizenship in July 4 ceremonies across the nation.
20 of those pledged allegiance to America in Tucson at Saguaro National Park.
One is 82-year-old Pricillia Ruan, who came to the US from Mexico 10 years ago to be with family and pledged to become part of her new, adopted home.
"She said every day I want to be part of this great country," her son Emilio Maya said.
She waved her new certificate to a rousing ovation from the audience made up of family, friends and others who had come to see their loved ones take the oath. Kisses and hugs followed.
The is the third ceremony hosted by the national park.
"It's becoming a tradition", said Superintendent Darla Sidles, who came to Tucson four years ago.
She said holding the ceremony in a national park gives the new citizens a great example of what America's 237-year tradition is all about and introduces them to the park system.
"Some of them come from countries where they couldn't vote or even drive," she said. "Things we often take for granted."
Jesus Rodriquez, a laborer, has been waiting for 20 years for this day.
"I kept telling them that someday I'm going to be a citizen," he said. "And now I am a citizen of this great country. Thank you all."
Denise Pacheco come to the US when she was five years old and set this as her goal.
"It's like you're visiting," she said about the past 30 years. "You're in a place where you feel like you're just visiting,"
But now she feels at home.
"I'm not a visitor anymore," she said. "I'm here to stay for good."
Becoming a citizen can be a grueling process. Besides the five year mandatory wait, there's also thousands of dollars in expense.
Then there's a history and civics test. There are 100 questions. Any 10 can be asked.
"I went online to look at the questions," Sidles said. "They aren't easy."
She would recommend all America citizens go online to take a look at the questions to get an idea of what the citizen applicants to through.
"That's just a small part though," she added.
"I studied every day, even put CDs in my car to listen to and from work," said Rayan Hanna, a new citizen from Iraq. "They told me I scored 100 percent."
The people who took the oath came from Belgium, Canada, Iraq, South Korea, Iran, Honduras, Colombia and Mexico.