BALTIMORE (WJZ) – Some members of the U.S. military are not American citizens, yet they have agreed to risk their lives for our country.
Suzanne Collins explains in return for that commitment they are now being put at the top of a long-waiting.
There is a special ceremony Wednesday on board the USS Constellation in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.
A dozen soldiers stand for an oath–army, navy, marines and national guard–people who agreed to serve even though they are not citizens but permanent residents born in other countries. Today they become Americans.
“I feel awesome,” said Danilo Sioson, a sailor from the Philippines. “I feel pretty good. I’m a citizen now, an American.”
“To me, the American dream is have a good job, a family and a beautiful house,” said Adelphe Jeatsa, a guardsman from Cameroon.
Right now non-citizens who serve don’t get full veterans benefits, and they can’t serve as an officer or in more sensitive positions.
“I always wanted to be a mp, a military police,” said Francis Madikaegbu, a soldier from Nigeria. “But I couldn’t get in because I’m not a citizen, security clearance. With this . . . hello mps.”
There are three naturalization ceremonies around Veterans Day—one in Baltimore, one in San Diego on the ship The Midway, and one Thursday in Baghdad.
Mohammed Vasquez came to the United States at age 4 from Guatemala but served in the marines.
“I never ever would have thought I would be becoming a naturalized citizen on the constellation,” Vasquez. “It’s an awesome experience.”
There were 12 service men and women from 10 countries naturalized on Wednesday.