Dream of citizenship becomes reality for Osgood resident

Beth Rumsey, Staff Writer

What was just a dream as a young boy in Turkey has become a reality for Osgood resident Behzat Turut on Thursday, July 23 when he took the oath of allegiance and became a United States citizen.

Turut came to America in December of 1989 as a visitor with Don Rice, who at that time was a teacher at one of the schools in Istanbul. According to Turut, he fell in love with the country, as well as the Rice family who had treated him as a son. “Ida and Hartsell were just like a mom and dad to me,” he said.

“Ever since I was nine or ten years old, I have been reading about America,” Turut continued. “I just fell in love with the country. It is so beautiful.”

Turut has lived in Osgood for the past 20 years and is appreciative of those who have helped and encouraged him. “Everyone has been so kind to me over the years,” he said. “I appreciate their friendship and kindness. I’m very proud to be a part of the community.”

Finding time to study was a challenge, according to Turut. He works as a custodian at the Osgood Public Library and at the Osgood Water Department on the weekends. He studied at home, with the occasional help from friends quizzing him to help him prepare for the test.

Sample questions from the US citizenship exam, which is required in the naturalization process, include: What is the supreme law of the land? What does the Constitution do? Who makes the federal laws? And, what is one responsibility that is only for US citizens?

Answers to these questions are: The supreme law of the land is the constitution; the constitution sets up and defines the government and protects Americans’ basic rights; Congress makes federal laws; and serving on a jury and voting in a federal election are responsibilities only for US citizens.

The test is about 100 questions long and includes questions on American history as well as civics, state and federal government questions.

Turut took the citizens test on June 8 and passed it 100%. “I feel like I won the state lottery, I’m so happy!” he exclaimed.

Fifty-seven others joined Turut in taking the oath of allegiance in Indianapolis. “It happened very fast,” he said. “But after it was over, I felt like I should have done it a long time ago.”

Turut is most looking forward to voting in the next election and is already making plans to register to vote. He also is looking forward to visiting his family in Turkey. According to Turut, he has not told his family about his citizenship yet.

Some of the friends he has made over the years has passed on before Turut realized his dream of citizenship. “Don, Ida, and Hartsell (Rice) would have been proud of me,” he said.

“Everything I have I owe to God,” Turut concluded. “I will never forget that. He’s been with me the whole 20 years. I’m very proud to be an American,” he said. “Dreams do come true.”

Osgood Public Library Board President Gene Pitts congratulates library employee Behzat Turut on achieving US citizenship at a reception held on Thursday, July 23. Becoming a citizen has been Turut's dream since he was a boy in Turkey.