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Archived from our former blog, The Beacon.

We Asked Immigrant Veterans: What Did Becoming a U.S. Citizen Mean to You?

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This Veterans Day, we asked our colleagues who are both immigrants and veterans what becoming a U.S. citizen meant to them. We received a different answer from each person, but a common theme was service and pride in becoming an American. Their responses and photos from past and present are featured below:

"Becoming a U.S. citizen filled me with pride and lit a fire inside me that drove me to want to serve in gratitude for all that I was given."

- Freddy Duron, Immigration Services Officer, Hialeah Customer Service Unit

Above: Freddy Duron, U.S. Army

"Duty, honor, country; these three words have guided me to become the citizen-soldier I am today. U.S. citizenship opened many doors of opportunities for myself and family. I'm glad to do my part to bear true faith and allegiance. God bless America!"

- David Salazar, Immigration Officer, Fraud Detection and National Security, San Bernardino Field Office

Above: David Salazar, U.S. Army Airborne

"Becoming a U. S. citizen meant a lot to me as it was the first time I felt like I had freedom and it gave me all the opportunity life can afford."

- Kelechi O Eke, Immigration Services Officer, Texas Service Center

Above: Kelechi O Eke, U.S. Army Veteran

"When I became a U.S. citizen it was a sense of belonging. Even though I was a Lawful Permanent Resident serving in the military, I still felt like a visitor. After becoming a U.S. citizen, this became my country. Immigrating to the U.S. and serving this great nation has been a great honor for my family and me."

- Rashpal S. Virk (Rocky), Immigration Officer, Fraud Detection and National Security, Seattle Office

Above: Rashpal S. Virk, U.S. Navy Veteran

"Becoming a U.S. citizen was a proud moment because my new country accepted me. I could be what I wanted regardless of my race or sex."

- Andy Ffrenchnowden, Immigration Services Officer, Los Angeles County Field Office

Above: Andy Ffrenchnowden, U.S. Marines

“When I became a naturalized citizen in May 1980, it opened up a wide range of opportunities in the service, made it a NAVAL career - rightly believing all along that military service is the most patriotic of all professions.”

- Mario Alvarado, Immigration Services Officer, Southeast Region

Above: Mario Alvarado, U.S. Navy