Story by Paul Long, FLEACT, Yokosuka Public Affairs
Photo by Yuhji Kawabe, FLEACT, Yokosuka Public Affairs
YOKOSUKA, Japan – The Chapel of Hope, on board Fleet Activities, Yokosuka, hosted a naturalization ceremony, May 15, where 30 people, including nine Sailors, representing 15 different countries, were sworn in as American citizens.
Steven Maloney, Minister Counselor for Consular Affairs, Consul General, U.S. Embassy, Tokyo, was the guest speaker during the ceremony.
“Why do people become American citizens?” he asked during his speech. “They become Americans for economic advancement, for the freedom to change jobs, for religious freedom, or for the right to re-invent themselves. Immigration makes America stronger. Immigration makes us more prosperous. Immigration positions America to lead in the 21st century.”
Pius Bannis, came to the United States in 1985 from the tiny Caribbean nation of Dominica, and was naturalized in 1990 in Newark, New Jersey. He currently works as the District Director, Bangkok (Thailand) District, for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service.
“I’ve reaped the benefits of being a U.S. Citizen,” Bannis said. “These ceremonies are always pretty emotional and they always remind me of my citizenship ceremony.”
Electrician’s Mate 3rd Class Kyung Yang , was born in Korea, and is currently stationed aboard the USS Fitzgerald (DDG 82). Yang was naturalized in January. Yang’s 18-month old daughter, Lani, became a citizen during the ceremony.
“I wanted to have her naturalized, so I can have her with me when I go back to the States,” said Yang. “Now, she can have the same life that I did in the States. I’m happy she’s a U.S. citizen… it’s been a long process and it’s finally over.”
Seaman Julian An, moved to the U.S. from the Philippines in 2007. An is stationed in Sasebo, aboard the USS Denver (LPD-9).
“I feel great, being an American,” An said. “I’m really honored to be serving the American flag, and proud to be serving in the Navy.