John Lafferty, District Director, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, administers the Oath of Allegiance during a military naturalization ceremony June 30. The four candidates are spouses to Air Force members stationed throughout Italy. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. Nadine Y. Barclay)
(From left to right) Brig. Gen. C. Q. Brown Jr. 31st Fighter Wing commander, Nadezchda Roderick, Eva Bailey, Ulku Can, Christine Reece, and John Lafferty, district director for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, pose for a photo during a Military Naturalization Ceremony June 30.(U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. Nadine Y. Barclay)
Brig. Gen. C. Q. Brown Jr., 31st Fighter Wing commander, presided over a military naturalization ceremony as the key note speaker June 30. The ceremony included an Oath of Allegiance, presentation of citizenship certificates, and a video message from President Barack Obama congratulating the newest United States citizens. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. Nadine Y. Barclay)
John Lafferty, district director for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, welcome candidates, family and friends to a military naturalization ceremony June 30. Mr. Lafferty traveled from Rome to administer the Oath of Allegiance and certificates of citizenship to four military spouses becoming citizens. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. Nadine Y. Barclay)
by Staff Sgt. Nadine Y. Barclay
31st Fighter Wing Public Affiars
7/2/2010 - AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy -- "I hereby declare, an oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and adjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty; of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or Citizen."
These were the first words spoken by four Aviano spouses as they took the Oath of Allegiance to the United States during a military naturalization ceremony June 30 at the 31st Fighter Wing Headquarters. The ceremony officially welcomed the spouses to the United States of America family.
"We really appreciate the sacrifice that you make as family members to the U.S. Air Force," said Brig. Gen. C. Q. Brown Jr., 31st FW commander. "We know how difficult it is to do what you do."
Formally recognizing the spouses as U.S. citizens, the ceremony included an Oath of Allegiance, presentation of citizenship certificates and a video message from President Barack Obama.
"It was important for me to become a citizen of the United States because my husband and children are citizens," said Ulku Can, wife of Tech. Sgt. Jamal Yussuf, 704th Munitions Squadron at Ghedi AB, Italy. "The military is a huge part of our lives. Becoming a citizen definitely takes some of the stresses off especially when it's time to PCS because we won't have to worry about what country we are going to and what their immigration laws are."
John Lafferty, district director for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said normally these families would have to travel to Rome to become citizens.
"Fortunately for them, this time along with help from General Brown and the 31st Fighter Wing, we were able to come to Aviano to perform the ceremony," Mr. Lafferty said.
Usually, the U.S. naturalization process for civilians takes years and a lot of patience before the can achieve their goal. For those serving the Air Force as a military spouse and waiting to become citizens, it's important to stay focused not only for themselves but also for the sake of the military member and the family.
"My wife and I began the process for citizenship back when we were stationed in Japan," said Sergeant Yussuf. "After three assignments and nine years later, we're finally finished. It's a huge weight off my families' shoulders."