NEW ORLEANS – Holding miniature American flags and dressed in various shades of red, white and blue, more than 50 of the country’s newest citizens took the Oath of Allegiance in New Orleans on Independence Day.

Ana Nedreberg, a native of Managua, Nicaragua, wiped tears away as she waved her flag and hugged her husband and the couple’s 2-year-old daughter.

“This is my country now,” Nedreberg said, choked with emotion. “I found my husband here, friends here, a loving community here. I’m so proud to say that this is my country now.”

Nedreberg is one of more than 7,800 candidates becoming citizens at roughly 100 special ceremonies across the country and overseas through Friday. The citizenship candidates in New Orleans hailed from about two dozen countries, including Australia, Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Hungary, Iran, Iraq and Kosovo. Other ceremonies were held in Washington, Chicago, Seattle, San Diego, and Hawaii; and aboard the USS Constitution in Boston.

The keynote speaker, Stanley Crockett, a field office director for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said the greatest resource any country can have is its people.

“America is like a good Louisiana gumbo,” he said. “Today, the flavor of this country’s gumbo was changed just a little bit and made just a little bit better.”