OAKTON, Va. — Hundreds of people joined the ranks of U.S. citizens this week in ceremonies around the nation marking Constitution Day and Citizenship Day.

At Oakton, Va., 432 people from 85 countries took the oath of citizenship Saturday morning.

"Once you took that oath," keynote speaker Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) told the crowd, "you became every bit as much a part of this country, every bit as American as I am. And you share a responsibility as well: The responsibility to help America live up to its ideals, the responsibility to make this ... a better country."

"You can help make America even greater," Connolly added, "by virtue of taking that oath and committing yourself to be a proud, active citizen."

Among the new citizens are two people with connections to the U.S. military. Airman 1st Class Peter Nketia-Akonnor, from Ghana, is with the D.C. Air National Guard at Joint Base Andrews, Md., and Nahla Qader, from Iraq, is a former translator in Baghdad's Green Zone who now works as a social media analyst for the U.S. State Department.

You can read about Nahla Qader's long journey from Iraq to the U.S. on Sunday, September 29 in Stars and Stripes and at

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