ASAN, Guam—It was a moment of great joy and celebration for the 50 individuals who became U.S. citizens during a special Veterans Day naturalization ceremony at the U.S. District Court of Guam in Hågatña last Nov. 13.
Hailing from China, Germany, Japan, Mexico, the Philippines, South Korea and Vietnam, each new citizen made a lifelong pledge to bear faith and allegiance to the constitution and laws of America.
“Each of you chose to become an American, and each of you, as an American, has earned the right to call this country home, not just because you took an oath, but because you believe in the opportunity of freedom and the chance to be something greater,” said Joint Region Marianas chief of staff Capt. Hans Sholley.
A handful of sailors attended the ceremony and were invited forward with Sholley by Magistrate Judge Joaquin Manibusan Jr. to help lead the new citizens in reciting the pledge of allegiance.
The sailors were there to support Naval Special Warfare Unit 1 Command master chief Matt Heinonen, whose wife Melina Heinonen was naturalized.
“It’s very special, and I’m blessed to be American now,” Melina Heinonen said. “I’m happy that all the military guys came, too. Just to be here was very emotional.”
Heinonen himself expressed how honored he feels to be an American and to serve the country.
“It’s a privilege to serve in the armed forces. It’s also a privilege to be American,” he said.