Ceremony welcomes 24 new U.S. citizens
By PAT GROSSMITH
New Hampshire Union Leader | June 05. 2014 8:21PM
He and his wife, Sarah Dak, who also fled South Sudan, were among the 24 New Hampshire residents who pledged their allegiance to the United States of America, becoming citizens in a special naturalization ceremony at the Henry J. Sweeney Post 2, American Legion.
He took English classes and learned how to use a computer at the Manchester Community Resource Center. That enabled him to get a job at the Merrimack Station in Bow for PSNH, where he’s been employed for the past 11 years.
The newest Americans originated from 17 countries including Brazil, Canada, Cape Verde, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Germany, Hungary, India, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Mexico, Russia, South Sudan and the United Kingdom. They make their homes in 15 different communities across Southern New Hampshire.
Lopes, who led the new citizens in the Pledge of Allegiance, was a police officer for five years in his homeland before he arrived at the age of 27 in Boston in pursuit of a better life and the woman he would ultimately marry in 2011, Maria Gomes. She became a U.S. citizen years ago after arriving in Boston as a child, also from Cape Verde. Gomes and Lopes met in their native country, where Gomes annually vacationed.
Lopes said he joined the National Guard last year because it was “my dream as a child” to be a solider. Today, he works in security in civilian life and is a petroleum specialist for the Guard in Concord.
Speakers included post Cmdr. William Whitmore; Anthony Violanti, Manchester field office director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, who administered the oath of allegiance, and Alan Heidenreich, Korean War veteran and director of the Forever Young Chorus.