GREAT FALLS — A naturalization ceremony was held Wednesday in Great Falls for 25 new American citizens.
For many, the American dream came true when they packed their bags and crossed the border.
“We was with three little bags. Leaving our family, friends, everybody in Cuba, it was hard,” Maie Lee Jones said.
Each one of them took a different path to get here.
For Lee Jones, she came with a one-year-old daughter, another on the way, and her husband.
“We came here for them, for the future for them,” Lee Jones said.
“It means so much for us. It’s opened a door for the future,” Adonis Zamora said.
For Natalya Franchi, it was love.
“I got here first time in 2010 with the student exchange program. That’s how I met my husband. We’ve been dating ever since before I got here. It’s been five years for us of him coming and visiting and our distance relationship. He was my first push of becoming a U.S. citizen,” Franchi said.
Franchi is from Ukraine. “It was good to feel like I finally belong here and I have full rights to be a part of this nation,” Franchi said.
But no matter the path taken, there’s a piece of paper declaring their connected stories.
“It’s our history and it means too much for us,” Zamora said.
From Australia, Belarus, Belgium, Canada, Cuba, Germany, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Philippines, Russia, Ukraine and Vietnam, now all U.S. citizens, and now all Montana residents.
“People are really nice. Thanks to the community of Montana. It’s a little cold, but it’s a warm heart,” Zamora said.
“We will keep dreaming and working and accomplishing every goal that we pursue, we’ll make happen,” Lee Jones said.
“It’s hard to pinpoint one specific thing. It feels nice to finally be done and it’s rewarding. It’s a good feeling and it’s hard to describe,” Franchi said.