Photo: SNFL / NYPL

The service members–who come from 15 countries–became citizens in an annual Independence Day naturalization ceremony held by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services in partnership with The New York Public Library

The ceremony took place in the new rooftop programming space of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library (SNFL) on Fifth Avenue and 40th Street, NYPL’s newly-transformed central circulating branch, which officially opened in June

Days before the Fourth of July, 25 currently serving members of the US military raised their right hands and became American citizens at a naturalization ceremony in midtown Manhattan.

The candidates–who serve in the Army, Air Force, and Marines–come from 15 different countries, including Belize, Benin, Burkina Faso, China, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, France, Ghana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, South Korea, Mali, Togo, and Ukraine. They waved small American flags as they took the Oath of Allegiance at the naturalization ceremony, one of 170 ceremonies welcoming  more than 9,400 new citizens being held across the country by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to mark July 4th.

In New York City, USCIS has partnered with The New York Public Library–an institution dedicated to offering education, information, and opportunity to all New Yorkers–on annual Independence Day naturalization ceremonies since 2014. This is the first year the ceremony was held at the Library’s central circulating branch, The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library (SNFL), which officially opened in June following a $200 million renovation.

The ceremony–which adhered to strict COVID-19 safety protocols, including mask-wearing and social distancing–was held in the building’s new rooftop programming space overlooking midtown Manhattan.

USCIS New York District Director Timothy Houghton and New York Field Office Director Susan Quintana both participated in the ceremony, as did New York Public Library President Anthony W. Marx.

“We are honored to be back with our good friends and partners at the New York Public Library for this celebration,” said Timothy J. Houghton, the District Director of the USCIS New York District.  “It is truly a celebration – not just of the start of our country, its ideals, and its past – but also of its future. We know this is a nation and a city built by immigrants, but as we saw today, it is also sustained by immigrants. Today we welcomed 25 people currently serving in the U.S. Military – each volunteered to fight for the rights and privileges of this country even before they became U.S. citizens who could enjoy those rights and privileges.  Patriotism is about a lot more than fireworks and barbecues – what we were privileged to witness here today is true patriotism.”

“The traditional Independence Day naturalization ceremony that we host with USCIS is one of my favorite days of the year,” said New York Public Library President Anthony W. Marx, who gave welcome remarks at the event. “To see immigrants from so many diverse walks of life come together to excitedly receive their citizenship and eagerly embrace the responsibilities that come with being active participants in our democracy of informed citizens is incredibly invigorating. There is no more appropriate way to celebrate our nation’s birthday than to celebrate the principle that makes it unique: opportunity for all. This year, to have active members of the military become Americans, people who stood up and said they would fight for those principles even before they officially pledged allegiance, adds a whole other level of inspiration. The Library thanks them for their service, congratulates them and welcomes them as official citizens, and offers them our full support. It’s appropriate that this year’s ceremony was held at our newly-transformed Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library (SNFL), a symbol of New York City’s reawakening, and one of the most important public spaces in our city, where people can come together to learn and grow. We hope to see the new Americans, and all New Yorkers, back there soon.” 

SNFL, formerly named the Mid-Manhattan Library, was renovated and completely transformed with generous support from New York City, and a landmark $55 million grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF). The library was designed by Dutch architect Francine Houben of Mecanoo, with New York City-based firm Beyer Blinder Belle. For more information on the renovated library–located in a historic building originally constructed in 1915 as the Arnold Constable & Co Department store–visit

About The New York Public Library

For 125 years, The New York Public Library has been a free provider of education and information for the people of New York and beyond. With 92 locations—including research and branch libraries—throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island, the Library offers free materials, computer access, classes, exhibitions, programming and more to everyone from toddlers to scholars, and has seen record numbers of attendance and circulation in recent years. The New York Public Library receives approximately 16 million visits through its doors annually and millions more around the globe who use its resources at To offer this wide array of free programming, The New York Public Library relies on both public and private funding. Learn more about how to support the Library at 

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