Anchorage is now home to some of the newest Americans in the country. Thirteen people took the oath of allegiance in the Anchorage Municipality’s Assembly Chambers Wednesday afternoon, ending the long process to become a U.S. citizen. Some of them have lived in the U.S. for decades, but only recently decided to apply for citizenship.


“I am now an American. I am part of the land of the free, and no one can take that away from me,” said Ferdinand Dominic, who was born in Sri Lanka.


He said he was a member of the U.S. Air Force for five years, but the experience of becoming a citizen might be even more meaningful.


“This was one of the best experiences of my life, short of my son being born,” Dominic said. “Now I get to vote.”


Many people registered to vote immediately after the ceremony.


“Voting is going to be wonderful,” said James Boughen, who first moved to the U.S. from the United Kingdom about 15 years ago. “I’ve been in this country now for several elections, and it’s really nice that I get to be apart of this one.”


A number of people delivered speeches to the crowd. Mayor Ethan Berkowitz, who identified as the son and grandson of immigrants, talked about his pride in Anchorage’s diversity.


“What you represent as new Americans is a hope and belief in the best of what we are, not the least of what we can become,” he said.


The mayor further encouraged the citizens to become involved in the community.


“You have to stay engaged,” he said. “Your voices are important voices.”


Becoming a citizen requires completing extensive paperwork, along with passing a test about American history. Dominic said the process was easier than expected.


“It was very fast and painless,” he said.


The new citizens hailed form 11 different countries. Two of them – including Dominic – have served in the U.S. military.


KTVA 11’s Eric Ruble can be reached via email or on Facebook and Twitter.