Inspired by freedom voyage

New US citizens take loyalty oath at scenic backdrop

Iana Kondra-Pisciotta, originally from Russia, was one of 38 people to take the Pledge of Allegiance to become new American citizens Wednesday morning on Colorado National Monument.

Inspired by parents, by children, by the opportunity for renewal, 38 western Colorado residents gathered Wednesday on Colorado National Monument to take oaths as United States citizens with Independence Monument as a backdrop.

For Iana Kondra-Pisciotta, the ceremony was the culmination of a voyage that began 20 years ago in her native city of Dubna, Russia, when her father urged her to go out into the world and explore.

She did and found that “being a U.S. citizen is a true privilege,” Kondra-Pisciotta told more than 100 people gathered at the Saddlehorn Campground on the monument, where she took the oath administered by U.S. Magistrate Judge Gordon Gallagher.

Kondra-Pisciotta is now a school psychologist at Nisley Elementary School in Grand Junction.

Her father bought her plane ticket from Moscow to Seattle and he remained in Russia, visiting the United States once for the birth of one of her children, but then returning home.

Her father urged her to try new adventures and embrace other cultures, “but always remember who you are and where you came from,” Kondra-Pisciotta said. “He said he would like to become a U.S. citizen.”

The naturalization ceremony was one of 200 such events across the nation during Constitution Week, marking the 220th anniversary of the document with more than 300,000 people expected to become naturalized.

Liane Anderson, originally from the Netherlands, said that when she hears debate about immigration boiling down to opponents wanting people to “go home, it kind of stabbed me in the back a little bit.”

The United States is her home, Anderson said, and for many others, “This is their home, regardless of their legal status.” Anderson, a therapist at Grand River Hospital, wore a necklace with an Old Glory pendant given to her by a patient who was excited to learn she was about to get her citizenship.

Amelia Carillo has lived in the United States for 30 years and her children are citizens. She couldn’t bear the thought of being separated from them “and this is their country,” she said,

Bishal Thapa wore a bright red jacket to the citizenship ceremony that marked the second time someone in his family has become a citizen and he threw his arms around Gallagher when Gallagher handed Thapa his certificate of naturalization.

The owner of Namaste Nepal Restaurant on Orchard Mesa, which was founded by his parents, Ram and Surja, Thapa said the day marked a culmination.

“I wanted to fulfill my dream,” he said.


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