HONOLULU (NNS) -- A Navy officer and Taiwan native assigned to the Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet staff described his journey to American citizenship Dec. 3, when he spoke at a naturalization ceremony at the U.S. District Court in Honolulu.
Lt. Edward Lin shared his feelings about America before becoming a naturalized citizen and spoke about his life since that day nine years ago.
"I always dreamt about coming to America, the 'promised land,'" he said. "I grew up believing that all the roads in America lead to Disneyland."
Upon arriving, he quickly found out that it was not about where the roads lead, but where his future in America would take him.
The motivation for someone to go through the naturalization process is unique for everyone.
"Whether it is economical, political, social or religious reasons," Lin said. "I do know that by becoming a citizen of the United States of America, you did it to better your life and the life of your family."
Lin was 14 years old when he and his family left Taiwan. They had to travel halfway around the world, stopping in different countries along the way where they had to quickly adapt to new cultures and to find inventive ways to communicate while learning new languages.
Just as military families transfer to overseas duty stations and their lives are turned upside down, immigrants traveling to America go through the same motions. They have to find a home, employment and schools for their children. Lin needed to start school and his American education, but registering for school was not easy.
A translator had to help him register for school, including filling out the required paperwork. Lin's Chinese name had 20 letters in it, and the woman at the school's front desk was unable to pronounce it. She asked him for his American name.
"I was barely able to spell 'ABC.' The only name that I knew back then as an American name was Eddy," Lin said. "Eddy was the name of my mother's dog ... I was very fortunate that my mother did not name her dog 'Fluffy.'"
Lin shared many anecdotes such as this as well as words of encouragement to the 80 newly nationalized American citizens. Also, he specifically addressed the nine military members participating in the ceremony, thanking them for going the extra mile to safeguard your new nation, "her people and the Constitution, which guarantees our way of life."
"You have recognized that not only do citizens have rights, but citizens also have responsibilities. The responsibility you are performing even now as non-U.S. citizen," he said. "Extraordinary events made this nation and our military. People like you, men and women who stepped forward when their nation needed them accomplished these extraordinary events. I thank you for your decision to serve."
For one petty officer, the ceremony marked a major milestone in her life, much like that described by Lin.
Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Ailyn Peralta described the event as "a great end to a long journey;" she was happy she accomplished something of significance.
"I did it," the Philippines native said at the end of her six-month endeavor.
"I hope that they realize that many, many doors have been opened up for them," Lin said. "Being able to vote is one of the major things they can do to change your community; they can direct the course of this nation.
"I hope they will build upon this moment and live a better life, and I hope their children will understand the struggle their family had to go through to get to this point. I hope they will identify with me, sharing this arduous journey and make something of them selves."
Gina Doane, the chief deputy clerk and a coordinator for the event, was moved by Lin's remarks and the stories he conveyed.
"I think they enjoyed Eddy Lin's speech because he took a personal spin to something that I'm sure they are feeling themselves," said Doane. "I hope they walk away feeling pride and a new love of their country."
Doane said she tries to invite someone with a military background to speak at the monthly events. She also hopes that next year they would be able to nationalize military personnel aboard a Hawaii-based ship.
For more news from U.S. Pacific Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/cpf/.