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United States Forces Korea welcomed 43 new U.S. citizens to its ranks during a naturalization ceremony held at United States Army Garrison Yongsan, Dec. 15.
Thirty-seven active-duty Servicemembers and six spouses of active-duty military members were naturalized as American citizens during the one hour ceremony.
Although this was the first time the newlynaturalized citizens swore the Oath of Allegiance, many of the Servicemembers present had already demonstrated their patriotism while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan before becoming U.S. citizens.
Staff Sgt. Francis Manalac, originally from the Philippines, said he started the naturalization process while serving in Iraq. “This is a very special ceremony,” he said. “Today is the culmination of a fouryear process.” Staff Sgt. Manalac now calls Chicago home.
“All are being naturalized because of their service,” said Kenneth J. Sherman, Citizen and Immigration Services Field Office Director, U.S. Embassy, Seoul. “They are from 20 countries, on five continents with one thing in common—their service and sacrifice. There are people in this audience who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan— willing to give the ultimate sacrifice.”
Sherman also noted that it is not only the Soldiers and Sailors who sacrifice and endure, but military families as well. That is the reasoning behind a new program allowing spouses of active-duty military members to become naturalized while living overseas, he said.
On Jan. 28, 2008, President George W. Bush signed a bill, which was passed by Congress, permitting spouses stationed with their sponsor overseas to pursue naturalization.