Foreign service members are now American - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Foreign service members are now American

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February 27, 2004

Ft. Benning - What does it mean to be an American? Some take it for granted, but on Friday servicemen and women from around the world took a special oath to become U.S. citizens.

Corporal James Rock and his wife, Jesula, are stationed at MCLB in Albany. They were both born in Haiti. He says, "It was my dream to be in the military."

Like all of his comrades, Rock already wears the American uniform, but material doesn't mean as much as the words said during the Oath of Allegiance.

With a simple hand in the air and a promise to America, nearly 40 nationalities merged into one country, the United States of America. Rock adds, "Now I'm part of the family and I'm serving my country instead of just being in the military."

Then a recorded word from President George W. Bush, "Today, the United States is not only your home, it is your country."

U.S. citizenship was a gift from President Bush to foreign active duty service members during the war on terror. Mrs. Rock smiles, "It means sacrifices for me and it means a victory."

Rock's wife can become an American citizen too. She says, "I already sent my papers. Probably next year, I'll have my own ceremony."

One word describes the men and women from around the world who are proudly waving the red, white and blue, Impressive. They all joined our mission without having the paperwork to call themselves American. Now they can.

During the past year, more than eight-thousand military service members have become U.S. citizens.

posted at 5:40PM by kathryn.simmons@walb.com