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Military members take oath of citizenship on Veterans Day

Posted November 11, 2014

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— Six men and women who serve in the United States armed forces became citizens during a special naturalization ceremony Tuesday to mark Veterans Day.

Luis Martinez, a Marine originally from Mexico, and Air Force member Fabiola Ten, a native of Dominican Republic, took the oath of citizenship in Durham along with Army soldiers Alma Lopez Oliveros, of Mexico, Diego Perez Varela, of El Salvador, Fan Wang, of China, and Webton Webley, of Jamaica.

"I've just achieved something great today," Webley said. "It's always been a dream of mine. Since I'm going to live here, I might as well serve the country to the best of my ability – and so I might as well go all out."

Perez Varela, a private with the 82nd Airbourne, has lived in the U.S. for four years and says his fellow soldiers are "family." His team leader, Sgt. Brett Bye, was there to watch him take the oath.

"It's phenomenal," Bye said. "It shows what a great nation this is, having people from the outside wanting to be a part of it."

After Sept. 11, the federal government launched a program to expedite the path to citizenship for immigrants who serve in the military. Nationwide, 78,000 service members have become citizens through the process. In North Carolina, 157 service members have become citizens this year.

"The decision to join the military, to be willing to sacrifice for the greater good, is one of the bravest choices an individual can make. This is especially true when you're signing up to defend your adopted home," state Rep. David Price, D-Raleigh, said during the ceremony inside the Durham County Health and Human Services building. "The decision to become an American citizen is a critical milestone in anyone's life. So, thank you."

An additional ceremony was held to recognize World War II veterans, including 101-year-old Jerry Smith, who was a Navy storekeeper.

"I never thought I'd be at a gathering of veterans," he said.

14 Comments

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  • Betty Lanier Nov 12, 2014
    user avatar

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    non-documented people can be in our Military. They will take anyone that will sign up.

  • USMC Vet Nov 12, 2014

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    -

    It's been available to LEGAL immigrants for years and years.

    If they have a desire to be, why should they be?

  • USMC Vet Nov 12, 2014

    Blessed for them all. May they find everything they hoped they'd find here.

  • willishelley Nov 12, 2014

    how can one be in the military if one is not a citizen?

  • bill0 Nov 12, 2014

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    You would think everyone would support this, right? Unfortunately, GOP leadership doesn't. There was a bill to allow citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants who honorably complete military service. Cantor and boehner refused to bring it to the floor.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2014/05/21/cantor-i-support-the-principle-of-the-enlist-act/

    The Heritage foundation came out opposed as well.

    http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2014/05/the-enlist-act-a-back-door-to-instant-citizenship

    Apparently, the desire to appear "tough on illegals" trumps support for people who will put their life on the line for our country.

  • dws Nov 11, 2014

    Thank you for your sacrifices and service, and congratulations on becoming American citizens!

  • SaveEnergyMan Nov 11, 2014

    I wish you much success in your new homeland. We are proud to call you fellow citizens.

  • housemanagercary Nov 11, 2014

    Thank you for your service and congratulations!!!!!

  • David McIntee Nov 11, 2014
    user avatar

    this is an expedited path to citizenship we can all support!

  • Mannin Black Nov 11, 2014
    user avatar

    That is a path to citizenship I think we can all agree on. Great job guys!

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