HAGATNA, Guam (NNS) -- Rear Adm. Bette Bolivar, Commander, Joint Region Marianas, and the District Court of Guam recognized the newest American citizens during a Veterans Day naturalization ceremony at the court in Hagatna Nov. 10.
Bolivar was the event's keynote speaker and addressed the 39 men and women who were granted citizenship during the ceremony.
"As we prepare to celebrate Veterans Day tomorrow, one of the things I think makes (today) even more special is the link that you share with the men and women of our armed forces," Bolivar said. "Not many are granted the opportunity to recite the oath of allegiance to the United States."
As a second-generation Filipino-American, Bolivar also shared her grandfather and father's stories of becoming Americans after joining the armed forces in the Philippines.
"Like you, they worked hard and dedicated themselves to ensure the best possible life for my family," she said. "I cannot express how grateful I am that the United States gave my family the opportunity to live in this great country."
District Court of Guam Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood presided over the ceremony and said these types of events mean the most to her as they display the value of American citizenship.
"I don't think people realize the significance and the value of our U.S. citizenship until they are out in the field fighting for our freedoms or they come to these ceremonies and they see the significance and the importance, and the value of our citizenship," she said.
Tydingco-Gatewood also expressed her gratitude for Bolivar's willingness to speak at the ceremony and thanked her for her service to our nation.
Mary Alba was naturalized during the ceremony and said she was proud to become a citizen in order to provide a better quality of life for her and her family.
"I'm very honored and I'm very privileged to be a United States of America citizen," she said. "For me, being an American citizen gives me a better opportunity, it gives me a better life."
In her closing remarks, the admiral encouraged the new citizens to become active members of society in order to help the U.S. continue to prosper.
"I'd like to present your first challenge as Americans: make a difference in our community, our island and our nation," she said. "Make a difference and live the dream."
For more news from U.S. Naval Forces, Marianas, visit www.navy.mil/local/guam/.