Saturday, July 4, 2009

Newest citizens extremely grateful

From the Daily News:

Frank Gashi, 36, a tax specialist from Kosovo, lives in the Bronx.

Gashi will feel a surge of pride as he celebrates his first July 4 as an American.

“It’s going to be an emotional experience because everybody in my close family is now a U.S. citizen,”says the father of two, who is of Albanian ­descent.

He fled the former Yugoslavia in 1992 during the bitter Balkans conflict. If he hadn’t escaped, he would have been forced to fight in the Serbian military.

“This nation has allowed me and many other Albanians to gain our liberty,” explains Gashi.

“Unlike the place we left behind, you can be successful if you work hard, no matter what your race, class or religion.

“Everything is possible here.”

Gashi, who became a citizen with help from City University’s Citizenship and Immigration Project, spent eight years in France before joining his mother, Ajmone, 63, brother, Fatmir, 32, and sister, Filloreta, 30, in New York City. They arrived from Kosovo as refugees in 2000 amid worsening violence and persecution.

All four have now taken the oath of allegiance. In 2005, Fatmir joined the U.S. Army and served in Iraq.

“It was his way of thanking the American people for helping restore peace in Kosovo,” says Gashi, who met his event coordinator wife, Kym Kodra-Gashi, 29, here in 2004.
The couple’s children, Jon, 4, and 1-year-old Ema, will learn about the family’s struggle when they are older.

“We will tell them how proud we are to be part of this wonderful country,” explains Gashi. “It has been a long journey.”

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