180 Service Members Become Citizens in San Diego

Story Number: NNS110703-08Release Date: 7/3/2011 6:14:00 PM
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By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Foster Bamford, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- The largest all-military naturalization ceremony of the year was held on the flight deck of USS Midway Museum in San Diego, July 1.

During the ceremony 185 service members from 40 countries became citizens.

"It's wonderful to have so many people from so many cultures and different points on the globe, be part of our country," said Rear Adm. William D. French, commander Navy Region Southwest.

French, the keynote speaker at the event, voiced words of encouragement to the new citizens.

"From a small group of colonies America became a nation of hope, a land of opportunity, a country of possibility, America became an idea," said French. "Countless millions have sought that hope, opportunity and possibility. They have embraced the idea, just like the 185 of you have today."

Department of Homeland Security Undersecretary Rafael Borras, also addressed the crowd.

"Today is but another example of our nation's democracy in action," said Borras. "We welcome those of you who have and will continue to shape America and its future as millions have done before you. As America's newest citizens you now have the opportunity to voice your opinion and contribute to the well being of our country."

Borras focused on new responsibilities in his address to the crowd.

"You've already taken up arms to defend America, so what special obligation do you have as members of the armed forces and new citizens? I believe it's the obligation to pass the lessons that you've learned on to others," said Borras.

The ceremony featured performances from various cultural organizations in the San Diego area and included special guests such as Medal of Honor Recipient, retired Col. Robert J. Modrzejewski and other notable veterans.

"We did the oath, finally I got my citizenship," said Machinist's Mate Fireman Seun Noh. "I feel very honored to be in the military and to be a citizen."

All service members who apply for citizenship are required to complete one year or more of service, speak English, have no criminal record, demonstrate knowledge of U.S. history and government, demonstrate good moral character and take the oath of allegiance to the U.S. Constitution in order to become eligible for citizenship.

For more news from Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, visit www.navy.mil/local/pacensandiego/.

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