CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea - Seventy-eight Active Duty military service members and eight military spouses, from 13 different countries, pledged to officially become American citizens during a naturalization ceremony at Camp Humphreys, May 22.
Col. Moon H. Kim, U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys chaplain, was the guest speaker at the event. He spoke of his own experiences of being naturalized and gave words of encouragement.
"After I received my U.S. citizenship in 2002, I became more motivated to serve the military," he said. "I was not just serving the Army, I was serving the country as a U.S. citizen. This is a tremendous feeling. It is our duty to make positive contributions to the community and the nation we now call our 'home'."
The process of obtaining American citizenship can be lengthy, "but, the wait is well worth it," said Pfc. Park Song Eun, a South Korean native, currently serving at Camp Carroll, near Daegu.
"This is a dream come true," she said. "The process took over two years after I joined the military, but I am very excited and feel blessed to be here today. My family moved to the States 12 years ago, and during this time, I didn't feel a sense of belonging until now. I can actually feel I am a part of a society and that means a lot to me."
Pfc. Nioly Das, a native of Bangladesh, also gave his reason why this day was important to him.
"To me, receiving this certificate makes everything legal," he said. "I see things that are not always right or legal, such as illegal marriages, but if I were to get married in the future -- I can do it without any guilt and do it the right way."
After the opening ceremony, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Field Office Director, Karen Karas, administered the Oath of Allegiance to the United Sates and presented certificates to the recipients.
The room was filled with excitement and tears as the families and friends watched their loved ones receive their citizenship certificates.
Lee, Jong Ok, father of Pfc. Namhum Lee (who received his U.S. citizenship), was one of the family members in attendance. He didn't speak English; however, his facial expressions showed how proud he was of his son.
"I'm so proud and happy for my son," he said (translated by Pfc. Seaokwon Yoon, the family's close friend). "I've been waiting for this day for a very long time and I'm so happy to be here with him, as he receives this great gift."
For information about naturalization through military service, please visit https://www.uscis.gov/military/naturalization-through-military-service
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