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Naturalization Ceremony at Marine Museum Celebrates Military Service, Citizenship

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Pride and patriotism filled the Leatherneck Gallery at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, Virginia, during a special naturalization ceremony held Nov. 10, on the eve of Veterans Day.

Twenty-six new U.S. citizens from 20 countries took the Oath of Allegiance. Six of them were taking an oath for the second time: the first was when they pledged to support and defend the U.S. Constitution as members of the armed forces.

As Marines, four of those six will now have two reasons to celebrate Nov. 10 – the day they became Americans and the day the Marine Corps was founded in 1775. This year is its 239th birthday.

An Army National Guardsman and a U.S. Navy veteran also became citizens during the ceremony. This week, in USCIS’ annual recognition of Veterans Day, the agency will welcome about 3,000 new citizens during 40 naturalization ceremonies across the nation.

At the National Museum of the Marine Corps, USCIS Director León Rodríguez said he was proud to stand among so many current and former service members, including 40 veterans who now work at USCIS headquarters. Roughly one-sixth of USCIS employees have served in the military.

USCIS Director León Rodríquez administers Oath at the National Museum of the Marine Corps

Rodríguez said the new citizens represented many journeys, “but we are all united in a belief in America and a commitment to service so beautifully exemplified by the current and retired service members here today. How fitting to be celebrating the making of new Americans in this museum.”

Marine Cpl. Jose Arroyo Roque was born in Costa Rica and grew up as a citizen of Nicaragua. He joined the Marines when he was 22. “I wanted to be part of something greater than myself,” he says. “It was a calling and I wanted to be able to protect the rights of Americans and ensure others can enjoy what I have enjoyed.” Becoming a citizen, he says, will allow him to further his career in the Marine Corps and vote in elections.

Four military spouses also became citizens. Lucia Cafa, originally from Italy, is a Navy wife who has lived in the United States as a permanent resident for 11 years. “I am very grateful to be a part of this great nation and to have many opportunities,” she says. “I look forward to participating more fully by having the rights of full citizenship in this great country.”