It’s one of those great and wonderful mysteries: Why do people enlist to put their lives on the line for a nation in which they are not citizens?
Regardless the motivations, many people do that, for the U.S. As a partial means of saying “thank you,” the U.S. grants expedited naturalization processes for some of those soldiers.
July 4, at the White House, about two dozen of those non-citizen soldiers completed the process, and took the oath to become citizens of the nation they’ve already served in defense. From the White House blogs:
President Obama Salutes New American Citizens
President Obama began his Independence Day celebrations by hosting a naturalization ceremony for active duty service members in the East Room of the White House. It was the third time the President has hosted this kind of service, and he told the audience, which included the families of the service members who were taking the oath of citizenship, that it is one of his favorite things to do. “It brings me great joy and inspiration because it reminds us that we are a country that is bound together not simply by ethnicity or bloodlines, but by fidelity to a set of ideas.”
Before the President gave his remarks, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Alejandro Mayorkas presented the countries of the candidates for naturalization and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano delivered the oath of allegiance. President Obama told the new citizens that is was an honor to serve as their Commander in Chief, and to be the first to greet them as “my fellow Americans.”
With this ceremony today — and ceremonies like it across our country — we affirm another truth: Our American journey, our success, would simply not be possible without the generations of immigrants who have come to our shores from every corner of the globe. We say it so often, we sometimes forget what it means — we are a nation of immigrants. Unless you are one of the first Americans, a Native American, we are all descended from folks who came from someplace else — whether they arrived on the Mayflower or on a slave ship, whether they came through Ellis Island or crossed the Rio Grande.
Immigrants signed their names to our Declaration and helped win our independence. Immigrants helped lay the railroads and build our cities, calloused hand by calloused hand. Immigrants took up arms to preserve our union, to defeat fascism, and to win a Cold War. Immigrants and their descendants helped pioneer new industries and fuel our Information Age, from Google to the iPhone. So the story of immigrants in America isn’t a story of “them,” it’s a story of “us.” It’s who we are. And now, all of you get to write the next chapter.
You can read the transcript of the President’s full remarks here.
- President Obama Salutes New American Citizens (whitehouse.gov)
- Active duty service members become citizens (cbsnews.com)
- Obama urges immigration reform at citizenship ceremony (firstread.msnbc.msn.com)
- Troops to become U.S. citizens at Independence Day WH naturalization ceremony (whitehouse.blogs.cnn.com)
- Independence Day Naturalization At The White House (lezgetreal.com)
- For Obama, Old Habits And New Citizens For Fourth of July (mysanantonio.com)
- Obama salutes new service-member American citizens (sfgate.com)
- Obama’s day: Citizenship on the Fourth (content.usatoday.com)
- Obama Presides Over Naturalization Ceremony (nytimes.com)
- Obama urges immigration reform at July 4 citizen ceremony (news.yahoo.com)