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Naturalization ceremony welcomes new Americans

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It was not only a celebration to swear in America's newest citizens, it was a chance to honor our Veterans. Every year, as many as 800 men and women are naturalized as U.S. citizens on Guam soil.

It was a parade of nations - Canada, El Salvador, the Federated States of Micronesia, Mexico, Palau, the People's Republic of China, Peru, the Republic of the Philippines, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the Vietnam - all pledging their allegiance to the United States of America.

"I hereby declare on oath," the group proudly began, announcing the words in unison.

41 smiling, flag waving, anthem-singing immigrants in pursuit of the American dream made it official on Thursday during a special Veterans Day naturalization ceremony at the District Court of Guam. Among them, two U.S. Army Reservists - Staff Sergeant Bernice Tesei Loftis of Palau has served for 18 years.

She joined with dreams of traveling and seeing the world, but most especially serving the United States of America. She told KUAM News, "It makes me proud that I'm actually a US citizen and not dual. It's good. It makes me proud that I'm actually a US citizen."

Specialist Junior Engichy of Chuuk says he's honored to be naturalized at the eve of Veterans Day. "You have to honor those who serve before you," he said.

Keynote Speaker Senator Frank Aguon, Jr. had a special message for the two new citizens, saying, "You have shown incredible patriotism and a willingness to risk your lives defending a nation that was not yet your own, but it made each of you one of us. It made you just as American long before it was official. It is that service and sacrifice that has helped define our country for more than 200 years."

Immediately following the ceremony, the newly naturalized citizens were able to apply for their U.S. Passport as well as register to vote.

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