PHOENIX -- Wednesday's annual Independence Day naturalization ceremony has become a tradition here in the Valley known as the Fiesta of Independence.
Of course there were lots of smiles from all those new citizens who say they've felt American in their heart all along, but Wednesday they proudly made that feeling official.
"Becoming official is great, a great feeling, I’m actually nervous and excited,” said Adriana Mendez.
Mendez has called the U.S. home since age five so this day is 24 years in the making.
“I always felt as an American citizen but now I’m very excited to become one legally," Mendez added.
It's a feeling felt mutually by all those on hand Wednesday to be sworn in as new American citizens. Especially those who have already put their lives on the line fighting for our freedom, like Army Specialist Luis Sanchez who never thought twice about going to Iraq.
“I grew up in the States. I feel like I’ve been American since I was a little kid, so it wasn't hard for me to do at all,” said Sanchez.
And then there is Canadian Davin McLoughlin who came to the U.S. and joined the Army in 1968, when many were trying to avoid the military.
"I had seen the Vietnam War on TV and thought I want to be a part of that,” said McLaughlin. “I volunteered to join and I have been part of America ever since.”
But Wednesday McLaughlin made it official, taking that sworn oath of citizenship along with some 250 others from 58 different countries, becoming American on America’s birthday.
And of course the first thing all those new citizens did was register to vote. They said it’s not only a privilege but a right and a duty they look forward to exercising.