The American dream has come true for thousands ofall at once, as they became American citizens in a grand ceremony Monday at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.
It’s usually not the ideal place for this type of event, but it works perfectly. Like the major leaguers who play at the iconic park, many of the 2,100 sworn in have worked for years to achieve their dreams.
Among them was the oldest new American in Los Angeles today: Mona Lindo, 89, who left Jamaica 42 years ago.
“I’m very, very proud of my humble beginnings. But I really love America,” she told CBS News National Correspondent Jonathan Vigliotti in an interview last week, ahead of her big day at the Dodger Stadium.
Although she brought her young family to Los Angeles in the 1980s, Lindo said she didn’t feel the need to become an American citizen at first. But having eight children and 41 grandchildren and great-grandchildren, most of whom are US citizens, has changed things.
“I said I wanted to retire in Jamaica. But… my whole family decided to become citizens. So I made the decision to get my citizenship,” she said.
Stars and stripes were in the spotlight on Monday as families in the stands watched and cheered on their loved ones. From Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia and Africa – young and old – they have pledged their allegiance to this dream land in the heart of LA
“There’s nothing more American than baseball, and what’s more American than making new Americans?” said Ur Mendoza Jaddou, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Jaddou said seeing newly minted Americans never gets old.
“It’s extremely special,” she said. “It has been several years since we were able to organize a big special event like this and naturalize more than 2,000 people from 120 countries.”
Lindo’s daughter, Pam Distin, said her mother’s decision to apply for citizenship was inspirational.
“She realizes what’s going on, politically, and she wants to be part of that process as well,” Distin said. “I’m very inspired. She realized the importance of it and hung on to it.”
If Lindo has a message for all the other holdouts, it’s that when it comes to becoming an American, better late than never.
“Well, it’s never too late,” she said. “And I think more about living than dying. So I continue my life where it takes me.”