By Makenzie O’Keefe

DENVER (CBS4) – Nearly 40 people from 18 different countries took the oath to become American citizens in Denver on Thursday morning. Among them was a former defenseman for the Colorado Avalanche.

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Brett Clark in 2006 (credit: Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images)

Brett Clark is originally from Canada and spent the majority of his NHL career in Denver. He told CBS4 taking the oath to become an American citizen is not only a great privilege but more importantly an honor.

Brett Clark awaits his turn to be honored in the Denver City and County Building on Thursday. (credit: CBS)

Clark, who lives in Colorado now, said becoming a citizen makes him feel like a true member of the community.

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(credit: CBS)

The naturalization process involved the commitment of lots of time and some struggles, but Clark says he’s excited to be able to stand strong as an American and make the country a better place through any turmoil we may face.

Aaron Downey of the Detroit Red Wings recieves a heavy body check from Clark in 2008 (credit: Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

“For the United States, you know trying to be a citizen here and a member here, it means a lot. You take it to heart. This country has given us a lot and you just want to give back to it any way you can,” he said.

(Avalanche players from left in 2006) Joe Sakic; right wing Dan Hinote; defenseman Brett Clark, right wing Ian LaPerriere (credit: Glenn Asakawa/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Clark and the other newly sworn in American citizens will be able to finally vote, to run for office (if they desire) and perhaps most importantly gain a sense of belonging.

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Makenzie O’Keefe joined the CBS4 team as a reporter in 2017. Read her bio, connect with her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter at @makenziepokeefe or email her your story ideas.