Serving in the military is something many servicemembers do out of a sense of duty to their country. A feeling of patriotism and pride commonly drives them to be their best every day. But there are many in the military who proudly and dutifully serve a country they are not citizens of.
At McChord Airfield's Co-located Club, 25 Soldiers, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, Airmen and military spouses, from 18 countries, stood and took the oath as a citizen of the United States in front of family and friends during a special ceremony, Sept. 15.
For one citizenship candidate, the opportunity to officially become a citizen of the country he serves was a goal he had been waiting years to complete.
"I have great pride in my uniform and my country. I feel special giving back to this country," said Boatswains Mate Chris Trujillo-Daza, U.S. Coast Guard. "It has always been a dream of mine to become a citizen since coming to the U.S.".
Becoming a member of the country was not just about having a piece of paper, it was also about the pride they have in their country and the military.
"It is an honor for me to serve this country and to now be a citizen of it as well. I have a special pride knowing that I will sacrifice my life to keep what we have and for my family to retain their freedoms," said Lance Cpl. Andrey Forostyany, 4th Landing Support Battalion combat engineer. "Growing up in a communist country, those freedoms are not there. Like they say freedom is never free and it is an honor for me to help protect them."
For the sponsors of the event it was a special day to watch these candidates complete their journey to becoming a citizen.
"One of the most coveted possessions that we can aspire to, especially our foreign born servicemembers, is to be a United States citizen. This is an honor and a privilege," said Wanda Abrams, Army Community Service Relocation Immigration Services Program Manger. "My hope for those taking the oath today is that they recognize they are becoming Americans by choice and that they must live up to that responsibility. "
Finally, after all the paperwork and waiting has been completed, and all the oaths are said, one candidate had a simple piece of advice for those servicemembers who have yet to decide to become citizens.
"You already sacrifice your life for this country and you have given the oath to be a Marine, a Soldier or whatever branch you are a part of. Why not go all the way? Why not become full citizens," said Forostyany.