Thierno Alimou Bah, left, and other new citizens take the...

Thierno Alimou Bah, left, and other new citizens take the Oath of Allegiance Friday at Sagamore Hill. Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

Nearly a year to the day after she became the first Muslim woman confirmed as a federal judge, Nusrat Choudhury delivered the keynote address at a naturalization ceremony commemorating Flag Day on Friday.

As she remembered her parents' journey to the United States from what is now Bangladesh, she left the newly naturalized Americans with an encouraging message.

"Your perseverance is paying off," Choudhury said. "You honor this tradition of immigrants and you will further it."

Hosted at President Theodore Roosevelt's historic Sagamore Hill home in Cove Neck, the ceremony officially naturalized 49 new Americans hailing from 21 different countries.

U.S. Circuit Judge Joseph Bianco, who served as the master of ceremonies, told Newsday that presiding over naturalization ceremonies is one of his favorite responsibilities as a judge.

"It's just a joyful moment they've been waiting years for," Bianco said. "You see tears of joy, you see smiles as big as you possibly could have, and you see their children wearing red, white, and blue. It's electric."

Such joy, perhaps even relief, was clear on Army Sgt. Fresnelson Paul's face after the ceremony.

"I've waited for this for so long," said Paul, who first came to the United States in 2016 from Haiti.

"It means a lot to come in here," he added. "Not everybody has the opportunity to be in a national park and have a ceremony with judges and all these important people."

Paul, 23, is a student at Nassau Community College studying criminal justice and hopes to one day become an FBI agent.  

Similarly to Paul, Isaac Adjei, who emigrated from Liberia in 2017, said Friday was a special day for him.

"It's a dream come true," Adjei, of Central Islip, said. "I have been around the world, but this is the only country where you feel like you are a part of it as soon as you arrive."

Adjei told Newsday he earned two master's degrees — one in employment relations from Penn State and the other in applied health informatics from Stony Brook University — before finally becoming a citizen Friday. A member of the National Guard, he said his goal is to continue furthering his education and Army career.

Thierno Alimou Bah, a third-class yeoman in the Coast Guard who came to the United States from Guinea in 2022, spoke on behalf of all the new citizens and said he would never forget the moment he received his naturalization certificate. Bah, who lives in Queens, also expressed gratitude to the Coast Guard for helping expedite his naturalization process and covering the cost of his college education, calling it his "dream company."

To apply to become a U.S. citizen, green card holders must be at least 18 years old and a lawful resident for at least five years; Bah became a citizen in only two years.

Michael Agudelo, who emigrated from Colombia and is currently an E4 specialist in the Army, credited his family for making his American citizenship a possibility.

"I feel grateful to my mom, my grandmother, and my great-grandmother for laying the groundwork when they immigrated here," Agudelo told Newsday in Spanish. "For me it is very important to now officially be able to be with them."

After the Army, Agudelo said, he plans to become a licensed electrician. 

As they shook hands with the judges while crossing the stage, many of the 49 paused to savor the moment as family and friends applauded.

"When we are able to bring this ceremony to the community, it's very significant," Bianco said. "It brings a message to the community about how important this ceremony is and how important new citizens are to our nation."

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