SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Service members from 19 different countries became U.S. citizens during a naturalization ceremony aboard the USS Midway Memorial Museum in San Diego July 3.
There were a number of countries represented at the ceremony including Afghanistan, Columbia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Uruguay and Poland.
The Department of Homeland Security's U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) transformed the flight deck of USS Midway into an official courtroom where 49 service members from the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard were sworn in as citizens.
"This is an annual event that takes place at the USS Midway Museum," said Maria Elena Upson, Spokeswoman for USCIS for over 30 years. "Certainly today being the eve of the 4th of July, how appropriate it is to naturalize service members. It doesn't get any better than this."
Many candidates were anxious prior to the ceremony; several of them had been waiting for years for this moment. After the ceremony took place the flight deck was filled with smiles rather than nervousness.
"It's a relief, like a weight's off my shoulders," said Boatswains Mate Seaman Graisy Landaramirez, assigned to Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyer USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60).
Landaramirez emigrated to the U.S. from Dominican Republic 15 years ago and has been in the Navy for almost two years. Finally today, after waiting for so long, she's able to call herself a U.S. citizen.
Once the candidates had been sworn in as U.S. citizens, they were addressed by Rear Admiral Yancy B. Lindsey, Commander Navy Region Southwest, and keynote speaker for the ceremony.
"To the newest citizens of the United States of America, congratulations and welcome home," said Lindsey. "Your diversity is our strength, your history is our legacy and your hopes are our dreams. There is no United States of America without you."
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