By Esther GarciaNovember 25, 2009
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- Twelve Soldiers assigned to the 232nd Medical Battalion became United States citizens during a naturalization ceremony Nov. 20 at the Army Medical Department Museum auditorium.
Once the oath of citizenship was administered by Honorable John Primomo, U.S. Magistrate Judge, Families, friends and co-workers joined the new citizens in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
"This is an absolutely special day for twelve of our Army Medical Department Soldiers, as these men and women from various backgrounds, who possess many different life stories, have been brought together today for a common purpose, a purpose that goes beyond just the desire to live in this country, a desire to serve this country, a desire to call this country, my country," said host for the ceremony, Maj. Gen. Russell Czerw, commander Fort Sam Houston and Army Medical Department Center and School.
Czerw also recognized the Families of the soldiers in attendance. "I want to thank the Soldiers' Families because a Soldier's Family is his or her foundation, upon which their commitment to military service, in this case the Army, is built upon, and without that support we would not be the nation we are today.
"We have entered into a covenant with our military Families, and that covenant is a promise from our military community to provide you and our Families with the best possible quality of life that we can," Czerw said.
Czerw said since 1775 Soldiers have fought in the battlefields to defend the ideals of our Nation and the principles of our Constitution.
He quoted Thomas Paine, one of the great orators of the American Revolution, "Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."
Czerw said these are powerful words, but if Paine said them today, he would have used the phrase, "like men and women" in his quote.
Addressing the new citizens, Czerw said, "Soldiers, you today, join more than 52,000 Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, and Airmen that have joined since 9/11, and over 9,000 just this year that freely chose to accept the enormous responsibilities, as well the benefits and rewards of becoming a citizen of these United States.
"Because you have lived our Army values: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage, this day has been possible because you made it possible."
Spc. Jin Hee Kim, born in South Korea who came to the U.S. at 16, attended Indiana University and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts with a double major in political science and Japanese, and a double minor in French and Business Management. She speaks Korean, Japanese, French and English.
Kim said, "I am now an American, I am very American, I am very proud to be an American, and I am so ready to work for America, for our national interest and national security, and I am so honored to be here."
When asked about her goals she said, "Since my native tongue is Korean, I would like to be a linguist in the Korean language, and be the liaison between the North Korean and American governments, so that I help resolve issues between the two governments."
New citizen Spc. Sanghoon Kang, originally from South Korea, has been in the U.S. for seven years. Kang changed his name to Spc. Chris Sanghoon Kang.
Kang said, "I am very happy, I really wanted to be a U.S. citizen for a long time."
Kang was a Marine officer in the Korean army. He missed the military life and so joined the U.S. Army. "I think that being a Soldier is the most admirable job in the world, so I am very happy and feel very honored."
According to Kang, whose wife lives in Los Angeles, she too is very happy, "I sent her a text message and a photo message of the ceremony."
"I think the impressive part of today's ceremony is the fact that, we, the citizens of the United States, defend and support our constitution, we do it freely, but we wear this uniform because we want to. Soldiers that have become citizens - it is an incredibly wonderful feeling and today's ceremony is the epitome of what this country and what this nation is all about," Czerw said.
Primomo who is with the United States District Court, for the Western District of Texas, San Antonio Division, said, "I have been able to preside over many naturalization ceremonies, but one of the more special parts is to be able to administer the oath of citizen to Soldiers who are serving the United States of America even before it is their country, so this a special day and honor for me and serve you as the presiding judge."