FORT CARSON, Colo.---"It's an honor to be a U.S. citizen. I do feel sorry a little bit for my ex-country, but this is my new beginning, this is my new country and I am proud to be a U.S. citizen," said Pvt. Tudor Craznic, 4th Engineer Battalion.

Craznic was one of 20 Soldiers and Family members, representing 15 different countries, who became U.S. citizens May 20 during the monthly naturalization ceremony at Fort Carson's Army Community Service.

Born in Romania, Craznic said becoming an American is "one of the happiest days in my entire life." He has been travelling back and forth from the U.S. to Romania the past three years, about every six months, to see his wife. In 2009, he decided to pursue becoming a U.S. citizen, a dream that took seven years to become a reality.

"I am glad that the U.S. Army gave me the opportunity to get this citizenship," Craznic said. "I actually joined the Army to give something back to U.S."

Noting completing basic training was the first major hurdle in getting his wife to the States, he said becoming a citizen was even more important. Now he can begin the process to have his wife join him in America.

The day was bittersweet for Craznic, excited to be an American, but disappointed his Family wasn't by his side to celebrate the occasion.

"In my heart I am deeply proud of myself, who I am and being a U.S. citizen," he said. "I can't express myself, I can't go and jump on a plane (and go celebrate with my Family) ... only God knows what I've been through and what I did. I thank God and I thank the United States."

This is but one story of the sacrifices immigrants make to become U.S. citizens, something Bill Winfield, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Denver Field Office, encouraged all 20 new citizens to share.

"Each of you has a story to tell, a story that involves risk and courage, a story of hope," he said. "I hope you share your story with your children and your children's children so it will not be forgotten."

He said 15 countries being represented at the ceremony is a test to the diversity of the United States. In addition to Romania, other countries represented at the ceremony were American Samoa, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Germany, Ghana, Guyana, Kenya, Korea, Mexico, Micronesia, Philippines and the United Kingdom.

The patriotic ceremony included the applicants reciting the national anthem, oath of enlistment, Pledge of Allegiance and a video message from President Barack Obama congratulating the newest citizens on their accomplishment.

Lt. Col. Martin Lagodna, U.S. Northern Command, was decked out in his Army class A uniform to commemorate his wife, Stephanie Uehlein, becoming an American.

The two met while Lagodna was stationed in Germany. They were married in 2000, but it wasn't until being assigned to Colorado Springs that they made the push to get her citizenship, Lagodna said.

Becoming a citizen means an "opportunity of being equal," Uehlein said.

"We knew she would only have the opportunities that all Americans have if she became an American, so we started a very long and arduous process."

While the process to get Uehlein's green card took years, she said the Fort Carson ACS and the Denver Field Office helped to expedite the citizenship process.

"Working with ACS and the immigration office has been a really good, positive experience ... if it wasn't for them we would probably still be in the queue somewhere waiting," Lagodna said.

Kate McNeely, Fort Carson immigration services, visits with Soldiers and Family members wishing to become U.S. citizens to assess their issues and then assists them in putting their application packages together. Once the process is complete, which McNeely said usually takes about three months, the applicants are called in for a morning interview with an Immigration and Naturalization Service counselor and then take a naturalization test - an oral exam of up to 10 questions on history, government and geography pulled from a list of 100 questions in the study guide. They must also demonstrate that they can read and write English.

Those who pass the interview and test, return in the afternoon for the formal ceremony where they receive their certificate of citizenship.
by Devin Fisher, Fort Carson Mountaineer

FORT CARSON, Colo.---"It's an honor to be a U.S. citizen. I do feel sorry a little bit for my ex-country, but this is my new beginning, this is my new country and I am proud to be a U.S. citizen," said Pvt. Tudor Craznic, 4th Engineer Battalion.

Craznic was one of 20 Soldiers and Family members, representing 15 different countries, who became U.S. citizens May 20 during the monthly naturalization ceremony at Fort Carson's Army Community Service.

Born in Romania, Craznic said becoming an American is "one of the happiest days in my entire life." He has been travelling back and forth from the U.S. to Romania the past three years, about every six months, to see his wife. In 2009, he decided to pursue becoming a U.S. citizen, a dream that took seven years to become a reality.

"I am glad that the U.S. Army gave me the opportunity to get this citizenship," Craznic said. "I actually joined the Army to give something back to U.S."

Noting completing basic training was the first major hurdle in getting his wife to the States, he said becoming a citizen was even more important. Now he can begin the process to have his wife join him in America.

The day was bittersweet for Craznic, excited to be an American, but disappointed his Family wasn't by his side to celebrate the occasion.

"In my heart I am deeply proud of myself, who I am and being a U.S. citizen," he said. "I can't express myself, I can't go and jump on a plane (and go celebrate with my Family) ... only God knows what I've been through and what I did. I thank God and I thank the United States."

This is but one story of the sacrifices immigrants make to become U.S. citizens, something Bill Winfield, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Denver Field Office, encouraged all 20 new citizens to share.

"Each of you has a story to tell, a story that involves risk and courage, a story of hope," he said. "I hope you share your story with your children and your children's children so it will not be forgotten."

He said 15 countries being represented at the ceremony is a test to the diversity of the United States. In addition to Romania, other countries represented at the ceremony were American Samoa, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Germany, Ghana, Guyana, Kenya, Korea, Mexico, Micronesia, Philippines and the United Kingdom.

The patriotic ceremony included the applicants reciting the national anthem, oath of enlistment, Pledge of Allegiance and a video message from President Barack Obama congratulating the newest citizens on their accomplishment.

Lt. Col. Martin Lagodna, U.S. Northern Command, was decked out in his Army class A uniform to commemorate his wife, Stephanie Uehlein, becoming an American.

The two met while Lagodna was stationed in Germany. They were married in 2000, but it wasn't until being assigned to Colorado Springs that they made the push to get her citizenship, Lagodna said.

Becoming a citizen means an "opportunity of being equal," Uehlein said.

"We knew she would only have the opportunities that all Americans have if she became an American, so we started a very long and arduous process."

While the process to get Uehlein's green card took years, she said the Fort Carson ACS and the Denver Field Office helped to expedite the citizenship process.

"Working with ACS and the immigration office has been a really good, positive experience ... if it wasn't for them we would probably still be in the queue somewhere waiting," Lagodna said.

Kate McNeely, Fort Carson immigration services, visits with Soldiers and Family members wishing to become U.S. citizens to assess their issues and then assists them in putting their application packages together. Once the process is complete, which McNeely said usually takes about three months, the applicants are called in for a morning interview with an Immigration and Naturalization Service counselor and then take a naturalization test - an oral exam of up to 10 questions on history, government and geography pulled from a list of 100 questions in the study guide. They must also demonstrate that they can read and write English.

Those who pass the interview and test, return in the afternoon for the formal ceremony where they receive their certificate of citizenship.

Page last updated Fri May 28th, 2010 at 15:44