GRAFENWOEHR, Germany – As part of a special program to naturalize active-duty service members and their families, U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria hosted a virtual naturalization ceremony at the Tower Barracks Conference Center on April 13. In total, 41 candidates from 20 countries were administered the Oath of Allegiance to the United States.
The citizens naturalized at the ceremony originally come from Argentina, Brazil, Burma, Cameroon, Colombia, El Salvador, Germany, Ghana, Guyana, Haiti, Italy, Jamaica, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, Panama, the Philippines, South Korea, Togo, Venezuela and Vietnam.
Following the national anthem, the Oath of Allegiance was virtually conducted by a representative with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
“Thank you all for your service and commitment to the United States,” said Eloris James, immigration service officer with USCIS. “Without being a citizen, you have already shown remarkable patriotism and dedication to this country through your service and the support of your spouses. Your spirit and dedication are what makes us a thriving nation.”
Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, USAG Bavaria and USCIS work in tandem to successfully host the hybrid ceremony. Since the program started in July 2021, five virtual ceremonies have been conducted at USAG Bavaria – totaling 159 naturalizations to date.
According to Military Personnel Division Chief Michele Crawford, the process of screening naturalization applicants becomes easier and more efficient with each virtual program cycle. Furthermore, this arrangement allows for a larger number of naturalization applicants at each ceremony.
“It’s actually helping the Soldiers who are deployed here, as we are now able to help them with this process,” said Crawford. “Instead of deployed Soldiers having to wait until they get back to the United States – if they already started the process and are just waiting for interviews – we’re able to get their cases transferred to interviews here, and put them in the ceremonies.”
In the long-term, she foresees that this hybrid method is here to stay.
“We’re going to see, but I think this hybrid method might continue even as we come out of COVID-19 restrictions,” Crawford said. “It seems to be the most cost-effective way for everybody involved, as candidates reach this last step in their journey to citizenship.”
These newly naturalized community members traveled to the ceremony from multiple U.S. Army garrisons across Germany, including the areas of Grafenwoehr, Vilseck, Hohenfels, Ansbach, Sembach and Kaiserslautern. Additionally, one candidate even traversed from Poland – where he is currently deployed.
“Today, you become a part of something great – America,” said U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria Commander Col. Christopher Danbeck, who served as the ceremony keynote speaker. “And America becomes greater and more complete, because of you all. Congratulations and thank you!”
View a video recording of the ceremony, here: https://www.facebook.com/USAGBavaria/videos/1204485446987966
View addition photos of the event, here: https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjzKC6h