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Citizenship comes to two Libby women

| April 13, 2005 12:00 AM

By STEVE KADEL Western News Reporter

Tiny United States flags have special spots of honor these days in two Libby homes.

The flags symbolize more than a love of country - they were given to Rey Eanes and Raquel Orr during their March 24 citizenship ceremonies in Missoula before U.S. District Judge Leif Erickson.

Eanes is originally from the United Kingdom, although she has been in the U.S. for 40 years. Orr, a native of the Philippines, came to Libby about nine years ago and married Howard Orr.

They raised their right hands in court chambers to take the oath of allegiance along with others from China, Japan, Thailand, Slovakia, Switzerland, Ukraine, Colombia, France, the Dominican Republic, Germany, Iran, Australia, Mexico, Canada, Russia and Guatemala.

"I was not prepared for the emotions," Eanes said. "The people from Iran and Ukraine were just bawling they were so happy to be citizens."

Eanes said she had not pursued U.S. citizenship for decades because it would have meant giving up her English citizenship and passport. A recent change in U.S. law changed that, however, so she proceeded with the process.

The 30 applicants first passed an oral test about U.S. history and government that was given in Helena. There were 100 possible questions, but Eanes and Orr answered a few successfully and were told they'd passed.

"I just love American history so that suited me just fine," Eanes said. "I was surprised they only asked me six questions. I was ready for the whole lot."

Judge Erickson addressed the new citizens, welcoming them to America and urging each one to appreciate sacrifices previous generations have made.

"He said these freedoms did not come without a price," Eanes said.

She met her husband, Paul, in Scotland when he was in the U.S. Navy. They will celebrate their 41st wedding anniversary in June.

The couple has lived in Charleston, S.C., Seattle, West Virginia and other places. In fact, Eanes said they've moved so often she feels like the entire marriage has been a vacation.

They've lived in Libby for almost 11 years.

"Americans are very warm, open and accepting," Eanes said. "It's a great country."

Orr voiced the same feelings during an interview last week. However, her joy over new citizenship is tempered by the February death of her husband, who suffered from lymphoma.

Orr has a U.S. flag in her kitchen and a "Welcome" wall hanging with U.S. flag design on a living room wall, the latter a gift from her stepson. She said the Orr family and members of Christ Lutheran Church have been a comfort to her since her husband's death.

She plans to visit family members in the Philippines soon, but will return permanently to Libby.

"I will stay here," Orr said. "This is (Howard's) dream house. I'll be strong and go on."