FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.”
This statement had a special tie for more than 48 Marines, sailors and soldiers with II Marine Expeditionary Force and Marine Corps Installations-East, who received their United States Citizenship at a Swearing-in Ceremony at the Fort Bragg Officer’s Club here, March 7.
The ceremony started, as many do, with a welcoming and invocation and continued with a performance by the Army 82nd Airborne Division Chorus, who sang a number of patriotic songs, including the hymns of the four respective branches of service.
Shortly after, the guest of honor, Lt. Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, commanding general of the XVIII Airborne Corps, gave a speech to the newest American citizens.
“I feel confident that each of the service members about to take the oath of citizenship will always remember this day,” Austin said. “Our country, as we know it today, was built on the blood, sweat and tears of immigrants.”
The service members swore-in after the general’s speech and were presented their naturalization certificates.
Service members, like Lance Cpl. Cristian Espinoza, 24, an administrative clerk with Headquarters Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, who came to America from Nicaragua when he was 5-years-old, explained how it felt to finally be recognized as a U.S. citizen.
“It feels great now to have the right to vote and to be an American citizen,” explained the Miami native. “I always felt like I was a citizen, it just wasn’t official yet. This was a long process and today was well worth it.”
Sgt. Julian Dan, a Marine with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 461, Marine Aircraft Group 26, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, shared Espinoza’s feelings.
“I came to this country in 1998 from Romania, and although it was a long process, I’m glad I gained my citizenship here today,” said the Cleveland native. “This was a nice ceremony for us.”
The ceremony concluded with a reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance and refreshments for all the attendees.
For the Marines, sailors, soldiers and airmen who gained their citizenship, most of them felt like they were already American citizens otherwise they wouldn’t have volunteered to serve in the country’s Armed Forces.
Many of them enlisted to show their appreciation to the United States for all it has given them.
“I wanted to be a citizen of a great nation,” Dan said. “I wanted to give back to the country that has given me so much; freedom.”
By volunteering and sacrificing so much, Dan and the other service members have already repaid that debt.