story & photo
by MC1(AW) Peter D. Blair
Being a citizen of the United States of America is something that many people who are born here take for granted, but for those who hail from different countries around the world, becoming an American citizen is a day they will cherish forever.
The day before Armed Forces day was just that for 12 current and former members of the U.S. military. They became naturalized citizens of the United States on May 14, during a ceremony at the Submarine Force Library and Museum with historic ship Nautilus serving as the back drop.
“It is indeed appropriate that this special Military Appreciation Naturalization Ceremony take place here, in front of the world’s first nuclear powered vessel and the forerunner our Nuclear Navy,” said Captain Marc W. Denno, Commanding Officer, Naval Submarine Base New London, as he welcomed the distinguished guests and soon-to-be American citizens. “The man whose vision, determination, and leadership led to the harnessing of the atom for submarine propulsion and the construction of Nautilus, was himself a naturalized citizen.”
Capt. Denno spoke of Admiral Hyman G. Rickover, ‘The Father of the Nuclear Navy,’ who immigrated from Makow, Russia to the U.S. when he was six years old.
One of the service members who became a naturalized citizen during the ceremony has a similar story. Personnel Specialist Third Class Ronn Erick Arnecillo Rios from the Navy Operational Support Center immigrated from Cavite, Philippines with his parents when he was three years old.
“It feels great to finally be a citizen of the country I so proudly serve,” said Ronn. “It was my dad’s dream to come to America and join the military. When he was unable to enlist I decided that when I was old enough I would make his dream a reality and have a member of our family proudly serve in America’s military.”
Congressman Joe Courtney was the keynote speaker for this first such Connecticut based U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) ceremony to take place at a military installation. He commended the new citizens for having taken two oaths: the first to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces and the second to now become citizens.
The Honorable Warren W. Eginton, Senior United States District Judge, presided over the ceremony, delivering the oath of citizenship and reminding the newest Americans to remember their obligations in self-government: to vote and to respond to a call for jury service.
Participants hailed from Brazil, Canada, Ecuador, Germany, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Kenya, Philippines, and the Peoples Republic of China, Poland and Peru. “We all look forward to your continuing contributions to the American story,” Capt. Denno concluded.