Former President Welcomes New U.S. Citizens

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Updated: Mon, 25 Aug 2014 09:03:52 EST

Georgia-born former president Jimmy Carter addresses the crowd as 20 people from 13 different countries become U.S. citizens Monday at the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site in Plains, Georgia.

Greg Reid, from South Africa, has been a permanent U.S. resident since 2004.  He got the news just weeks ago that he passed the interview process and would gain his U.S. citizenship.

"I’ve traveled all over the world, and this is the greatest nation in the world,” says Reid. “To be a part of it and contribute to the society is just something special."

Chris Abbett with the National Park Service says the NPS is celebrating its beginning, 98 years ago, with those beginning their new citizenship in the United States.  He says it's an honor to have former president Carter as part of the celebration.  "Just having an ex-president, former president, here to be able to share that time with them that just makes it even more real,” Abbett explains.

Abbett explains events like this citizenship ceremony bring needed attention to national parks.  The NPS is reaching out to people, like new citizens, who may not understand how to take advantage of the nearly 400 national parks in our country.  He says parks offer preservation of nature, opportunities for physical activity, as well as education, like the history of the citizenship process in our country.

"A lot of these historic sites, like Jimmy Carter, are jewels that are spread throughout this country and people, lots of times, don't think about visiting," says Abbett.

This special day commemorating the 98th anniversary of the National Park Service now holds great significance to Reid. He explains his future plans in the country that has given him so much.  "Hopefully be able to make a positive difference in somebody else's life," Reid says.

 Every year in Atlanta, nearly 21,000 people gain their U.S. citizenships.  Ceremonies, less formal than the one today, are held almost every day.


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