ATLANTA -- Alen Mrsic of Lawrenceville, Ga., looked exhausted. Bags hung from his eyes and his sweaty hair was matted against his head. But Mrsic, 27, was beaming from ear to ear as he walked around Turner Field on a hot Wednesday afternoon.
Mrsic, formerly of Bosnia, was one of more than 1,000 people who became U.S. citizens during a United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Naturalization Ceremony that kicked off Atlanta's celebration of Independence Day this week.
"I've still got weak knees," Mrsic said. "You can tell by my eyes, but I haven't slept all night because I was so excited. I'm still excited."
Mrsic first came to the United States in 1999, and he fell in love with the country. The freedoms offered by the First Amendment are a big deal to Mrsic, as well as the nation's pop culture offerings. Mrsic was quick to name Babe Ruth as his favorite athlete.
"Besides freedom, you can study any culture you like, you can study any religion you like, and no one will be against it," Mrsic said. "Secondly, you've got so many sports to choose from, and all the great women."
Family and friends were also in attendance at a ceremony that featured speakers including USCIS Southeast region director Kathy Redman, U.S. Housing and Urban Development Region IV administrator Ed Jennings and Braves president John Schuerholz, as well as a taped message from President Barack Obama.
"I get to do naturalization ceremonies all around the Southeast region and around the country, and this is one of the best," Redman said. "This is just a wonderful venue. The Braves have been most gracious in letting us come here. It can't be more American than a baseball game."
Each of the newly naturalized citizens received a ticket to Wednesday night's series finale between the Braves and the Mets. Mrsic, awed by his surroundings, was simply thrilled to spend one of the most memorable days of his life at the ballpark.
"This is like a dream come true," Mrsic said. "I'll be sad to leave this place."
Joe Morgan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less