Battleship Missouri Memorial Hosts Naturalization Ceremony

Story Number: NNS140704-06Release Date: 7/4/2014 10:01:00 PM
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By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Diana Quinlan, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Det. Hawaii

PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- Military service members, civilians and their families attended a citizenship naturalization ceremony held on the fantail of a historic Battleship Missouri Memorial July 3 on Ford Island at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

More than 70 people representing approximately 20 countries took the Oath of Allegiance officially becoming American citizens and being a part of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services' annual celebration of the Independence Day.

Susan Oki Mollway, chief United States district judge, District of Hawaii, presided over the ceremony as well as introduced the guest speakers Rear Adm. Alma Grocki, director of Fleet Maintenance, U.S. Pacific Fleet, and Mike Gabbard, senator, Hawaii State Senate.

"The service was great today," said Grocki. "I came really not knowing what to expect but you can just see the pride in people's faces and they are so excited. Different ages, men and women are equally excited an honored to be citizens, they really get it, they know what it is to be an American."

The admiral also spoke on the importance of diversity in today's world and military.

"Diversity is everything - that is our whole country," said Grocki. "We are such a melting pot of different people who bring their individual skills and talents, which other countries may not have or may not be as versatile in different skill sets. And that is why diversity in the United States and in our Navy is so important."

During the ceremony future citizens and their families received an official video address from the President Barack Obama, congratulating them on becoming a part of this nation.

In addition, the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Honors and Ceremonial Guard presented the colors accompanied by musical performances provided by the Pacific Fleet Band's Brass Quintet.

Military service members, representing the U.S. Army, Navy and Marine Corps, had the honor to receive their citizenship as well as congratulations and support of their respective commands.

Builder 1st Class Marco Wood from Germany, assigned to Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Hawaii, became an American citizen along with many others.

"Today I was able to take my oath and become a citizen. This is a beautiful and historic place to have the ceremony and I really enjoyed it as I was waiting for this moment for a long time," said Wood. "I have been in the military for 18 years and I already felt like I am an American, but it is nice to be recognized officially, to have all the rights and responsibilities as other citizens do. And I do plan on voting for the first time!"

The ceremony concluded with each newly naturalized citizen receiving their certificate of citizenship and celebrating with their families and loved ones.

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