At the U.S.S. Midway Museum, some 50 U.S. service members became U.S. citizens on Wednesday, San Diego Fox affiliate KSWB reports.
One new citizen, Sergeant Jorge Hernandorivas, a two-time Purple Heart recipient who fought in the battle of Fallujah in 2004, remembered, “We left nothing but our great men up there. It was a day I will never forget.”
Hernandorivas joined the Marine Corps after 9/11, and said, “I didn’t come in to earn citizenship; I came in because of what it means to be an American. What it means to stand here and sleep on the brink of freedom that many men have passed away for.” He flashed a smile when asked about his new citizenship, saying, “It’s overwhelming; it’s a little bit of a humbling experience.”
Navy corpsman Xavier Thompson said, “It makes me feel proud, cause it took a while, you know, when you’re not born here, it’s a little bit of a process to get here. But you gotta stay persistent; you gotta move the bumps out of the road. You gotta keep-a-truckin’, you gotta keep-a-movin’.”
Susan Curda, District Director of U.S. Citizenship, added, “it’s sort of a double celebration, both of our Independence Day and of those who are fighting to keep our independence.”
The new citizens came from 46 different countries. Some of the other new citizens commented:
It’s awesome, man, just awesome. I’m a citizen; best feeling ever.
I’m excited, man. It’s amazing to be a U.S. citizen.
And one new citizen, proudly clutching the documentation of his new status, exclaimed:
I made it!