GRAFENWHOER, Germany — Twenty-two members of the USAG Bavaria community were sworn in as U.S. citizens during a virtual naturalization ceremony June 29 at the Tower View Conference Center. The ceremony, part of a special naturalization program for active duty service members and their families, welcomed people from 12 different countries as new citizens of the United States.
After the national anthem, sung by Jamie Patterson, the pledge of allegiance was virtually delivered by Eloris James, immigration officer with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
“Thank you all for your service and commitment to the United States,” James said. “Becoming a soldier before becoming an American citizen is an incredible act of patriotism and selflessness. Thank you so much for your service and commitment to our nation.
The ceremony ended with the garrison commander, Col. Christopher R. Danbeck, handing out naturalization certificates to the new American citizens.
“America’s strength lies not only in its armed forces or its economy but in the hearts and minds of its people – good people, strong in character. People like the 22 of you,” Danbeck said, congratulating the new citizens. “Today you are part of something great – America. And today America becomes greater and more complete because of you. Please enrich our lives with your past experiences for we have a lot to learn from all of you. Congratulations and welcome to my new citizens.
The new US citizens are from Belize, Benin, Cameroon, China, Congo, Ecuador, El Salvador, Jamaica, Kenya, Haiti, Mexico, Nepal, Philippines, from South Korea and Venezuela. Currently, candidates are stationed in garrisons across Germany, including Grafenwoehr, Vilseck, Hohenfels and Illesheim/Ansbach. Moreover, one candidate even traveled to the ceremony from Poland.
Pfc. Venezuela’s Bryant Castellanos had been anticipating this moment since he was a boy, saying, “I feel very happy! I have been in the United States since I was twelve years old. I’m really happy that I was able to become an American citizen and I’m proud to be able to serve this country.
SPC. Jamaican native Henry Shaquelle said: “I am excited and overwhelmed with emotions. It is truly amazing to become a citizen of the greatest nation. This here today shows that you can achieve anything you want. It just takes hard work and dedication.
You can view a video recording of the ceremony on Facebook here.