25 naturalized at Fort Caroline National Monument


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Twenty-five people were naturalized as American citizens Tuesday at the Fort Caroline National Monument.

Among them was Francois Kloc, an honorary French consul for the city of Jacksonville who last year was involved in the 450th anniversary of Capt. Jean Ribault's arrival, an event that marked the beginning of French history in Florida.

"Very emotional time for me," Kloc said. "To be where my ancestors stood and to become an American in the same place, it's very, very special."

In all, more than a dozen countries were represented at the ceremony.

Park employees say this is the second naturalization ceremony they've held, and it's something they'd like to do again. They say for them, the experience is just as emotional.

They also say national parks are doing this more often, and they're thrilled to be in good company.

"The parks belong to the citizens of the United States, so we think that's also a special connection for them to start their citizenship here," park superintendent Barbara Goodman said.

For Kloc, Tuesday was not only a personal dream come true, but a celebration of diversity and a great nation.

"It's necessary and I think it adds to the greatness of this country to welcome these people and to give them chance," Kloc said.

Park employees say the next ceremony is likely to happen in the spring.

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