During the naturalization ceremony that took place along the Potomac River, which is situated in Mount Vernon, on July 4th, over 100 immigrants become citizens of the United States, the Washington Post reports. Five of the people who put up their right hands and gave the Oath of Allegiance to the US already serve as Marines in the nation’s military and vowed to support and defend the US Constitution and the country’s laws.
“I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God,” said the immigrants, including 29-year-old Juan Cerda Guerra, who came to the United States from Mexico at just five years old. Guerra told the Washington Post that for a very long time he has felt like an American despite not holding citizenship. He has been a Marine for nearly a decade and has completed two tours in Iraq.
Since he was granted US citizenship, Cerda Guerra wants to keep rising in the ranks as a Marine and says he would be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for his country. It is relatively common for people who are not US citizens to serve in the military, with more than 660,000 veterans having become citizens between 1862 and 2000.
The citizenship process has been legally sped up since the terrorist attacks of September 2011 in a bid to encourage non-citizens to join the military. As a result of this nearly 90,000 military service members have received naturalization since September 2002.