November 13th, 2006 02:56 EST
Service members become citizens at LSA Anaconda
LSA ANACONDA — Several service members became American citizens during a ceremony Sunday at Logistics Support Area Anaconda in Balad.
Several dignitaries spoke to the near-capacity crowd at LSA Anaconda’s Sustainer Theater. Brig. Gen. Michael J. Terry, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Commanding General, delivered the keynote speech.
Terry told the new citizens there is probably no other situation or investment, except serving your Lord, in which a person can give up so little and receive so much more in return.
“Becoming an American can have nothing to do with birth or ancestry.” Terry said. “That is because America is an idea, not a race.”
Spec. Simon Muturi, originally from Kenya, was among the service members earning American citizenship. He said he would continue to be a Kenyan at heart, but wants to be an American.
“America is where it’s at.” Muturi said. “ No other country can give you the opportunities like America can.” Muturi joined the Army in 2000.
Already a momentous occasion, the ceremony took on a more special meaning by taking place in a combat zone during Veterans Day weekend.
“Just as important as your new citizenship, and just in time for Veterans Day, we honor the fact that you are also veterans” Terry said.
President George W. Bush, speaking via a video message, congratulated the service members and welcomed them as fellow American citizens.
Dr. Emilio T. Gonzalez, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services director, said this year marks the 40th anniversary of his own naturalization ceremony. Gonzales said people are allowed to come into America seamlessly because they don’t swear allegiance to a party or person, but an idea that is bigger than all of us.
Gonzales shared his own stories of the opportunities afforded him as an American. He is a retired U.S. Army colonel. In 2005 President Bush appointed and the senate confirmed Gonzales to head the USCIS.
“Only in America do those type of opportunities exist.” said Gonzales, who led the candidates in the Oath of Allegiance.
Among other dignitaries at the ceremony were USCIS Rome District Director John M. Bugler, who performed the Presentation of Candidates, and 13th SC (E) Command Sgt. Maj. Terry Fountain, who delivered the opening remarks.
New citizens who took part in Sunday’s ceremony are Carlos Arjona, Fernando Avila-Luna, Lorena Ayres, Latifatu Bakare, Benjamin Brito, June-Ray Cadiz, Gustavo Castellanos-Rivera, Luz Adriann Ceballos-Guevara, Ray De La Cruz Sanchez, Juan Delgado-Preciado, Aly Diasse, Kevaughn Edwards, Paul Ernandes, Yaser Essedraoui, Gafatasi Fuimaono, Carlos Gastelu, Maciej Gebala, Nicole Elizabeth Hart, Sok Jin Hong, Bartlomiej Jakowlew, Shilue Johnson, Esteban Leon-Cevallos, Rene Madsen, Kristofferson Marzo, Zayvier Moodie, Simon Muturi, Moonsammy Narinesammy, Oliver Nied, Oscar Ochoa, Kennedy Osara, Tito Parra Fiallo, Alberto Rivera-Jaquez, Angelo Rocha, Jesus Romero, Sergio Sepulveda-Moller, Lester Spence, Preston Suero Delgado, Biel Thiec, Jose Vaca Ramirez, Jorge Vargas, Juan Verduguez Moreno, Dmytro Vilyaykin and Thong Yang.
(Courtesy of 13th SC(E), LSA Anaconda – PAO)