(Via Ho’okele News)
Story and photo by MC2 Diana Quinlan
Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Detachment Hawaii
Military service members, civilians and their families attended a citizenship naturalization ceremony held July 3 on the fantail of the historic Battleship Missouri Memorial on Ford Island at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
More than 70 people representing approximately 20 countries took the oath of allegiance to officially become American citizens and be a part of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services’ annual celebration of Independence Day.
Susan Oki Mollway, chief United States district judge, district of Hawaii, presided over the ceremony and introduced the guest speakers, Rear Adm. Alma Grocki, director of Fleet Maintenance, U.S. Pacific Fleet, and Sen. Mike Gabbard, Hawaii State Senate District 20.
“The service was great today,” said Grocki. “I came really not knowing what to expect, but you can just see the pride in people’s faces and they are so excited. Different ages, men and women, are equally excited and honored to be citizens. They really get it; they know what it is to be an American.”
The admiral also spoke on the importance of diversity in today’s world and military.
“Diversity is everything. That is our whole country,” said Grocki.
“We are such a melting pot of different people who bring their individual skills and talents, which other countries may not have or may not be as versatile in different skill sets. And that is why diversity in the United States and in our Navy is so important,” she added.
During the ceremony, future citizens and their families viewed an official video address from President Barack Obama, congratulating them on becoming a part of this nation.
The Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Honors and Ceremonial Guard presented the colors accompanied by musical performances provided by the Pacific Fleet
Band Brass Quintet.
Military service members, representing the U.S. Army, Navy and Marine Corps, had the honor to receive their citizenship as well as congratulations and support of their respective commands. Builder 1st Class Marco Wood from Germany, assigned to Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Hawaii, became an American citizen along with many others.
“Today I was able to take my oath and become a citizen. This is a beautiful and historic place to have the ceremony, and I really enjoyed it, as I was waiting for this moment for a long time,” said Wood.
“I have been in the military for 18 years and I already felt like I am an American, but it is nice to be recognized officially, to have all the rights and responsibilities as other citizens do. And I do plan on voting for the first time,” he said.
The ceremony concluded with each newly naturalized citizen receiving a certificate of citizenship and celebrating with a families and loved ones.