A MARRIED couple wiped tears from their eyes as they took a pledge promising to be the future of Australia.
Billy and Debra Martin made the commitment yesterday knowing their family back in Britain were not “overjoyed”, but they said Australia was where they belonged and the place they truly called home.
Emotion was stirred within Mrs Martin as voices singing I Am Australian carried through Wangaratta’s King George V Gardens.
“It was our way of telling our family we have a better life,” she said.
Mr Martin said he shared his wife’s tears of joy.
“We were standing there and were looking out and seeing all the people we knew,” he said.
“It makes us realise how lucky we are and how we also have a family here.”
The couple joked about how Australian citizenship meant they could “really enjoy a barbie and cold beers”.
They moved to Melbourne in 2005 before relocating to Wangaratta three years later.
Mr Martin said the country offered them more than they expected.
“Australia offers us sunshine we didn’t have before and great food and wine,” he said.
“People are so social and proud to be Australian.
“We thought we’d make it official because we love where we are and the life we lead.
“From walking down the street to jumping in the river, everything is so beautiful.”
The pair smiled at each other as they agreed they felt more a part of the community than ever before.
Rural City of Wangaratta chief administrator chairwoman Ailsa Fox said Australia Day was a celebration of the 65th anniversary of Australian citizenship.
“This day is important to all nations that are different and it is about uniting different backgrounds,” she said.
“We can all celebrate freedom and the lifestyle and it is a chance for all Australians to confirm their commitment to Australia in their past, present and future.”
Mrs Fox said the Australian story was about courage, endurance and sacrifice regardless of race, ethnicity and background.