Soldier meets President during citizenship ceremony
May 15, 2009
WASHINGTON -- A Fort Campbell Soldier became a naturalized U.S. citizen May 1, in a ceremony held at the White House during which she was personally recognized by President Barack Obama.
Spc. Chyshann Pierre, of the 1st Special Troops Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, participated in a naturalization ceremony, which President Barrack Obama presided over.
Pierre, who came to the United States from Nassau, Bahamas, at age 8, joined the Army in November of 2006. She began the process to become a citizen while deployed in the Salah ad Din province of Iraq with the Bastogne Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division.
"I am proud to wear the Screaming Eagle patch," said Pierre who participated in several combat operations during the deployment. "Being in 101st has been a big experience for me," she said. "I have met and worked with a lot of people that helped me through the tough times. The Soldiers at 101st are truly my family."
Pierre was accompanied on the road to citizenship by her team leader, Staff Sgt. Tiffany Bjorklund and by Command Sgt. Maj. Kevin Engle, 1st Special Troops Battalion.
Pierre is a "shining light of personality" in her unit, said Bjorklund. "It is not often that you are asked by a Soldier to serve as her family during such a momentous occasion in her life," she said.
Pierre began the last leg of her journey to becoming a U.S. citizen with an interview and citizenship test held in Fairfax, Va., on April 29, 2009. Upon completing of the test, Pierre was informed that she was the first of 25 servicemembers to be honored in a special ceremony to be held in Washington D.C.
On May 1, Pierre, made the 11-hour journey from Fort Campbell, Ky., to the White House dressed in her Class A uniform. The scene was flooded with press, White House staff members, and on-lookers. They fought their way through waves of camera-happy tourists wanting their picture taken with an American Soldier and cleared through the Secret Service Security to make the walk up the path to the White House entrance.
"It took me 44 years to even get to see the White House and Spc. Pierre got to spend part of her first day as a citizen there and meet the President," said Engle.
Pierre was beaming with excitement as her journey to the White House became reality. She was immediately taken aside to receive a quick ceremony briefing. After rejoining Bjorklund and Engel, Pierre was approached by Sara Taylor, ceremony coordinator, with exciting news ... President Barrack Obama would be mentioning Pierre during his speech; the President of the country that she would now be a citizen of would mention her as an example of selfless service to the country.
During his speech, the President not only mentioned her name, but also asked her to stand while he spoke of her journey to becoming a citizen. While the President highlighted her accomplishments as a Soldier, mother and combat veteran, Pierre's ear to ear grin showed the pride in her new country and her service to her nation.
Pierre is a devoted mother of three: Devonte 11, Skye 8, and Isaiah 4.
"I got my citizenship, met the President, have three beautiful, healthy children and a wonderful military family," she said. "What else could I ask for'"