BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Mabinu Putu is now officially an American citizen of the United States of America.

She joined just a handful of others at a naturalization ceremony at Fort McHenry Saturday.

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“I felt like a brand new person. It was beautiful out there,” she said.

Her husband went through the process just a few years ago, after leaving Liberia in the midst of a civil war some 20 years earlier.

“To finally land at that moment, it was that burst of emotion,” Matthew Putu said.

Also happening Saturday was a U.S. Army enlistment ceremony, fitting as this is a part of the Defenders Day celebration. Defenders Day is the oldest holiday in Baltimore that celebrates those who successfully defended Fort McHenry from a British attack in 1814.

“They started celebrating it on the 12th of September. So for a little while, it was called the 12th of September, but the men who were celebrated for generations afterward were called the Old Defenders of Baltimore,” said Shannon McLucas, a National Park Ranger. 

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It’s the battle that inspired Francis Scott Key to write what would become our national anthem.

“We’re celebrating what Francis Scott Key called the inspirers of the song,” McLucas said.

A song that certainly means a lot to some of our newest citizens.

“Just to hear the lady singing the national anthem, it blew my mind,” Mabinu Putu said.

“God bless America. Happy to be here,” Matthew Putu said as he waved a small flag.

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One-third of the men who fought to defend Baltimore in 1814, were new immigrants.

Sean Streicher