POCATELLO, Idaho - Thursday was a big day for 13 people in Pocatello's Federal Courthouse. They walked in as 13 complete strangers from different countries and walked out as 13 citizens of the United States of America.
Last year, the United States welcomed more than 760,000 new citizens, and almost 1,400 of those people were made official citizens in Idaho. Those 1,400 people were from more than 20 different countries across the world.
With a simple "yes," those 13 people have taken a huge step by swearing an oath of loyalty to a country they're not native to. Each person had different reasons to be there, but the one thing they all had in common was the desire to be there.
Angel Flores was among those taking this different kind of "big plunge."
"I've been here for 22 years, and I moved up here when I was 17," Flores said. "Next thing I know I met my wife, and she kept me here."
Flores said while the process was difficult, including the required history test and $700 fee, it was completely worth it.
"Look at my face. I'm a smiley guy," Flores said. "Yeah, it is worth it."
The naturalization ceremony included the Pledge of Allegiance, the National Anthem and the Oath of Allegiance. Each person walked through a line, shaking hands and receiving various items, including their certificate of citizenship, a pamphlet on voter registration and their own American flag.
As the new citizens left the courthouse, they had the opportunity to ring a bell on the steps, modeled after the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. The whole point of that part of the ceremony is to announce loudly that they are here to stay in America.
And as each American rang the bell, their happiness rang through the air louder than any bell.