Mitesh Sangani has prepared the stage in the Hicks Auditorium at the Main Library many times for naturalization ceremonies.
But Friday was different.
This time, Sangani, who was born in the United Kingdom, and his wife, Bhagwati, born in Kenya, become American citizens.
It sounded like the United Nations as the names of 51 countries were called out. As their soon-to-be former countries were called, 126 people rose to their feet to be sworn in as U.S. citizens.
Sangani said it has been his dream to be an American since he was 10 and read an American history textbook while in school in England.
“I read about George Washington and Thomas Jefferson and I was hooked,” said Sangani.
He came to America and attended the University of South Carolina, where he earned a degree in political science. He returned to England to work in the hospitality industry and then came back to America in 2004.
Before the ceremony, Sangani confessed the couple didn’t have any good reason for putting off becoming U.S. citizens.
“Ask my wife – I just procrastinated. Then one day, I looked at my green card and saw that it would soon expire, so we decided it was time,” he said.
Asked if they were going to lunch after they were sworn in, perhaps for a hot dog and a slice of apple pie, Bhagwati Sangani, an associate at SunTrust Investments, answered for the couple.
“No. We’re going back to work. That’s American, right?”