New citizen-veterans celebrated with Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff at a post ceremony luncheon held at dinning facility one at Logistics Support Area Anaconda, Nov. 11. - Photo by Spc Jennifer Sierra
Veterans Day - November 11, 2007 - Our Warriors Become Citizens
In the largest naturalization ceremony in Iraq, 178 foreign-born members of our military received their oath of citizenship at LSA Anaconda from Secretary of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff.
“I can’t think of people who are more deserving of citizenship then those who are fighting to defend the country even before they are citizens. They understand that freedoms don’t come free and they are willing to make sacrifices even before they reap the benefits of citizenship,” said Chertoff.
Emilio T. González, director, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, himself an Army veteran, presented each recent citizen with a certificate of naturalization. Brig. Gen. Gregory E. Couch, 316th ESC Commanding General, congratulated each new American veteran-citizen.
Naturalized service members also received a U.S. flag from the 316th ESC senior enlisted leader, Command Sgt. Maj. Stacey E. Davis.
According to USCIS, nearly 40,000 troops are not American citizens. Many foreign-born men and women have pledged commitment to the U.S. Constitution by serving in the military and are availing themselves of a July 2002 executive order making members of the Armed Forces immediately eligible to apply for citizenship. Approximately 4,000 service members have earned U.S. citizenship while serving abroad since 2004.
These men and women have taken the oath to protect and defend us long before they were entitled to the rights of citizenship. I dare say that they have a greater understanding of the value of the freedoms we take for granted and few of us have fought for. I am proud to have them as my fellow citizens. God Speed to all.