EL CAJON, Calif. - Tens of thousands are expected to turn out for a patriotic festival in El Cajon on Saturday. It is the city's inaugural "America on Main Street," which started with a naturalization ceremony.
It was the first day the group of 50 could call Old Glory their own, and it happened to be on Flag Day.
Sebat Algelani was one of them. When he and his family left Iraq, they left behind a constant fear of being killed.
"He said there was a lot of racism and people killing each other," his daughter translated. "That's why it was important to come here."
Just up the street from the ceremony, Antonio Rosselli was showcasing his heritage by cooking up some sausage at one of the booths.
"We're talking 800 pounds of sausage!" he said.
His grandfather taught him how to cook it when he was 10 years old living in Italy. He shared a single bedroom with his family of six. They kept their mule in the only other room, and it was not easy.
"It was pretty rough," Rosselli said. "We were poor and that's why we all came here."
They came to the United States in 1966, and he was sworn in as a citizen 13 years later. He said it was a jubilation beyond comparison.
"The best thing about this country is the diversity," Rosselli said.
He gets chills just looking at the Statue of Liberty because of what she stands for.
"What goes through my skin is goosebumps," Rosselli added.
He earned a degree and became a realtor.
"This country is the best," Rosselli said. "The opportunities you get here you don't find anywhere else."
Cramped quarters are a thing of the past, and he has the means to sell sausage for charities with his church group.
It is those basic freedoms like religion and speech that made the Algelanis stand behind this country.
When 10News asked Algelani what America means, his daughter told 10News he said it is a future for their family.