By Spc. John Ortiz
4th Sustainment Brigade
CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait – A Chicago native, Roberto De Leon, a sergeant in the Army became a United States citizen, Aug. 3, 2008, at a naturalization ceremony.
De Leon, a motor vehicle operator with the 1844th Transportation Company based out of Quincy, Ill., is originally from Guatemala and is currently serving his second deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Like the rest of the service members, De Leon was inspired to become a citizen of the country he pledged to protect when he enlisted in the service.
"It feels great to be a citizenship, its something that my whole family can enjoy now," said De Leon.
Applicants applying for citizenship of the United States would have to wait at least five years, but as a member of a military service serving the United States, De Leon was eligible to apply as soon as his enlistment began.
"The process was actually pretty fast once I submitted my paperwork, it took about six months to reach this point," he said.
During the ceremony, De Leon promised to support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic, as a member of the military; this promise is not far from the oath he took as a recruit when he enlisted in the Illinois National Guard.
"My family is very proud of me right now, its something that I have been working toward for a long time," he said.
21 service members from 11 different countries representing the United States Army and Navy participated in the naturalization ceremony.
"We are here today to celebrate the induction of new citizens to the United States of America," said Maj. Gen. Charles Anderson, Deputy Commanding General, United States Army Central.
"Since 9/11, more than 36-thousand members of the Armed Forces have become U.S citizens, today you add to the great legacy of the immigrants who have come before you," he said.
"It is an honor for me to share this very special day with you, citizenship is one of the most coveted gifts that the U.S. government can bestow," said Anderson. "I know you are grateful for the opportunities that you have been given, you have earned the privilege of American citizenship."
"With every new citizen who is woven in our national tapestry, our cultural fabric is enriched and our diversity is strengthened, securing America's promise as a nation of immigrants," he said. "Today we welcome you, as the newest members of the American family."