CHICAGO - Becoming a United States citizen was a dream come true for nearly 2,000 people in Chicago on Wednesday.
It was the largest Naturalization Ceremony in Chicago history.
There were lots of good feelings as exactly 1,984 brand-new citizens and their proud families packed into the Wintrust Arena.
Their citizenship oath was administered by Federal Judge Diane Wood.
"They're beating the doors down," Wood said after the ceremony. "If you ask them, this is the greatest place to be that they know."
Many had been waiting for decades. And they came from all over the world!
There were 140 countries represented in the ceremony, including the Philippines, Algeria, Uganda, Russia, Moldova, Cuba, Kazakhstan, Bulgaria and Poland.
All were greeted by Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who remembered his own family's immigrant roots.
"Your stories as American citizens are just beginning," Pritzker said. "And your presence here today is shaping our future for the better."
With naturalization certificates in hand, many took pictures in front of a large U.S. flag at the center of the arena, and talked emotionally about what it means to finally be an American.
"You get opportunity, freedom of speech," said Praniksha Salla. "You get to do anything that you like. You get to enjoy the life."
"I'm so excited today because I became a U.S. citizen," said Ibtissem Sadou. "I just want to thank the United States for this opportunity."