United States District Judge Ricardo H. Hinojosa called it a rebirth. For those in the audience, waiting for this day had been a long and lengthy process. But the long process had finally come to an end as they came together last week to take the oath of allegiance at the naturalization ceremony and become U.S. citizens.

The ceremony took place at the McAllen Memorial High School Auditorium. Friends and family filled the auditorium and witnessed 186 people take the oath.

“Those of us who were born U.S. Citizens, don’t remember the day we became citizens, but those here made the decision on their own to become American citizens and will always remember the day,” Hinojosa said.

Of those becoming U.S. citizens, the oldest was 86 years old and the youngest was 19 years old. People present taking the oath were from Austria, Peru, Cuba, Uruguay, Paraguay, Honduras, Korea, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Vietnam, Iraq, the Philippines and Mexico. The oath of allegiance was said in English and in Spanish.

The guest speaker for the event was John David Franz, Mayor of the City of Hidalgo. He welcomed the audience and encouraged them to be good citizens.

“We need to do our part to make our country better and we do that by participating and by volunteering,” he said.

The Memorial JROTC Color Guard presented the colors and vocalist Allyssa Cantu, a student at the school performed the national anthem.

Naturalization ceremonies occur approximately six times a year and are handled by the Immigration and Naturalization Service.