GRAFENWHOER, Germany -- Twelve members of the USAG Bavaria community celebrated freedom and independence at this year's 4th of July as newly, naturalized United States citizens.

USAG Bavaria hosted a naturalization ceremony July 3 at the Tower View Conference Center where those 12 individuals from 10 different countries took the Oath of Allegiance and officially became American citizens.

The citizens naturalized at the ceremony originally come from Ghana, South Korea, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Russia, Philippines, Moldova, Vietnam, Germany and Costa Rica.

Vocalist Nicole Johnson-Vogl began the ceremony by singing the National Anthem.

"Today, is a day you have looked forward to for a very long time and perhaps dreamed of for even longer," said International Adjudications Officer, Lisa Wohlrab, in welcoming remarks. "Today is the day that each one of you will officially become American Citizens."

The call of countries and administration of the Oath of Allegiance were conducted by Roland Lyons, U.S. citizenship and immigration services field officer director.

"Conducting a naturalization ceremony this week is the most special ceremony of the entire year as we celebrate the 4th of July," said Lyons.

USAG Bavaria Chief of Staff Lt. Col. Gregory C. Scrivens, who himself took the oath of citizenship in 1992, gave the keynote remarks at the event. Scrivens was born in England.

"Newcomers have a special way of appreciating the opportunities of the 'Land of the Brave and the Home of the Free,' and when they seize those opportunities, our whole nation benefits," Scrivens said in his speech.

Scrivens also urged the participants to always remember the culture and traditions from their home countries as they begin their new journeys as American citizens.

A video message from the President of the United States and a video to God Bless America by Lee Greenwood followed.

"I am very happy that I am now an American citizen and I am grateful to this country," said Raquel Rodriguez, who is originally from Nicaragua.

Spc. Kirill Skryabin, who emigrated from Russia to the U.S. in 2017 and lived in New York before enlisting in the U.S. Army, had his own large cheering section at the ceremony.

"I am proud of this moment right now. It's really great as I've been waiting for this moment for a really long time," said Skryabin.

"I have always loved America," said Denteh Eoahemaa Esther, who is originally from Ghana. "When I was a child I always wanted to see America and now that I have the opportunity and live here, I hope to vote and exercise all of the rights that all Americans have."