Thirteen men and women from 10 countries became U.S. citizens at a Friday afternoon naturalization ceremony in the Lebanon Municipal Building’s Courtroom No. 1.

As friends, relatives, and public officials looked on, the new Americans solemnly swore to support and defend the Constitution and the laws of the United States from all enemies, domestic and foreign.

The oath was administered by President Judge John C. Tylwalk, after each new citizen was presented for naturalization by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services representative Chris Baran.

New citizens take the naturalization oath. (LebTown)

While recognizing that “our country is not perfect,” Tylwalk told the audience that, “I believe that we should still be as aspirational as our founding fathers were. We should be trying to create a country and a society based on principles of equality and justice for all.”

He pointed out some of the practical, day-to-day benefits that American citizens enjoy but routinely take for granted: the right to vote, run for elective office, receive a public education, and travel freely.

And with the rights we Americans enjoy go a number of responsibilities, according to Tylwalk: military service if needed, jury duty, and taxes. “We have to pay taxes. A famous man once said ‘taxes are the price we pay for civilization.'”

Even more basic, every American has to follow the law. “We are a country of laws, and we expect obedience from our citizens,” Tylwalk said.

Judge Bradford Charles presents a Certificate of Naturalization to new citizen Sovannath Torng. (LebTown)

Friday’s ceremony marked the first time since 2020 that new citizens could be sworn in locally. Traditionally, Lebanon County residents participated in naturalization ceremonies held annually on May 1 as part of National Law Day. COVID-19 ended the practice, according to Tylwalk, and candidates were forced to travel out of the county, as far as Philadelphia, to participate in naturalization ceremonies.

“Unfortunately … COVID kind of put and end to Law Day … and the naturalization ceremony, Tylwalk noted. “But we discovered that not having a ceremony for naturalization in-county didn’t stop the need for one.”

Generally, applicants for U.S. citizenship must have been lawful permanent residents for five continuous years (spouses of U.S. citizens three years), demonstrate good moral character evidenced by a lack of a criminal history, and pass a test on United States history and civics.

Questions about this story? Suggestions for a future LebTown article? Reach our newsroom using this contact form and we’ll do our best to get back to you.

Do you want to see more from LebTown?

Support local news. Cancel anytime.

Already a member? Login here

Free news isn’t cheap. If you value the journalism LebTown provides to the community, then help us make it sustainable by becoming a champion of local news. You can unlock additional coverage for the community by supporting our work with a one-time contribution, or joining as a monthly or annual member. You can cancel anytime.

Chris Coyle writes primarily on government, the courts, and business. He retired as an attorney at the end of 2018, after concentrating for nearly four decades on civil and criminal litigation and trials. A career highlight was successfully defending a retired Pennsylvania state trooper who was accused,...


LebTown membership required to comment.

Already a member? Login here

Leave a comment

Your email address will be kept private.