FORT DRUM, N.Y. - The Statue of Liberty has always been a symbol of our nation's immigrant past. She greeted immigrants from around the world as they made their way to New York and to their transition to becoming Americans. Now, she welcomes visitors to a city still scarred by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

For all of those reasons, Sgt. Tashane Vann, operations noncommissioned officer for Company C, 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, chose Ellis Island, Lady Liberty's home, as the location where he wanted to re-enlist.

A native of Staten Island, Vann grew up beneath Lady Liberty's torch.

"She set the scene perfectly for what I wanted to do," Vann said of the statue.

Vann went to Ellis Island on May 8 to participate in the National Ethnic Coalition of Organization's Ellis Island Medal of Honor ceremony. He spent some of his down time committing more of his life to service of the United States.

"It felt great to be able to re-enlist there," Vann said. "I'm from New York, and part of the reason I joined the Army was because of 9/11. Being that close to the site while I re-enlisted was great."
The son of a Jamaican immigrant father, with a mother from Mississippi, Vann exemplifies the American melting pot.

The ceremony wasn't all serious though.

"There were so many tourists watching that I started laughing," Vann said. "First Sergeant (Kathy) Cook wouldn't stop taking photos either."

"Sergeant Vann couldn't leave the company," Cook, Vann's first sergeant, said with a chuckle. "We wouldn't let him go."

"My unit is great," said Vann. "I already know what the atmosphere is like (in my unit), and that is where I wanted to stay, so I re-enlisted to stay."

So, with Lady Liberty looking on, Vann committed a few more years of his life to serving his nation.