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ipacific

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First Military Naturalization Ceremony held in American Samoa
« on: September 08, 2010, 08:19:57 AM »
First Military Naturalization Ceremony held in American Samoa

Thursday, September 2, 2010
Governor Togiola Tulafono today joined Brigadier General Michele Compton, commanding general, U.S. Army Reserve’s 9th Mission Support Command, at the swearing in ceremony of 42 U.S. Army Reservists as new naturalized U.S. citizens at the Governor H. Rex Lee Auditorium (Fale Laumei) in Utulei.

The event, the first military naturalization ceremony in American Samoa, was officiated by the District 26 Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, David G. Gulick, who administered the oath of allegiance to the Soldiers.

Governor Togiola congratulated the new U.S. citizens --American Samoan soldiers who are members of the Army Reserve 9th Mission Support Command, specifically from the 411th Engineer Battalion’s Forward Support Company and the Theater Support Group-- on making the choice to serve in the U.S. Army and to be sworn in as naturalized U.S. citizens.

“You have been given the opportunity to raise your hands on the soil of American Samoa where most of you were born, where your parents were born, where your grandparents were born and your great-grandparents were born,” said Governor Togiola. “The irony of this ceremony today is the fact that you were born Americans, you were raised Americans, you fought the wars of America, and only today you are given full recognition as United States citizens.” (See full speech, click Read More below)

Under special provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act, qualified members of the U.S. Armed Forces are exempt from certain naturalization requirements to include residency and physical presence in the United States. Service members who have served honorably on active duty or as a member of the Army Reserve on or after Sept. 11, 2001 are eligible to file for immediate citizenship under the special wartime provisions in Section 329 of the INA. Additionally, members of the U.S. Armed Forces are not charged a fee to file for naturalization or to receive their certificate of citizenship.

In November 2003, President Bush signed the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2004.  The Act amended portions of the Immigration and Nationality Act to allow for overseas military naturalization ceremonies.

U.S. citizenship provides Soldiers with additional opportunities within the Army and throughout the United States. Some of the Army’s jobs, also known as Military Occupational Specialties (MOS), require Soldiers to have their citizenship. Additionally, many of the Soldiers are hoping to provide additional opportunities for their families.


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Swearing in of Toa o Samoa as U.S. Citizens
Speech by by Governor Togiola Tulafono
Lee Auditorium (Fale Laumei) Utulei, American Samoa

 
"This is a great day for American Samoa as a United States Territory. Thousands before you have raised their hands and sworn the oath and were made citizens of the United States resulting from their services in the military. Today you have been given the opportunity to raise your hands on the soil of American Samoa where most of you were born, where your parents were born, where your grandparents were born and your great-grandparents were born.

The irony of this ceremony today is the fact that you were born Americans, you were raised Americans, you fought the wars of America, and only today you are given full recognition as United States citizens.

I remember in 1967, as I was preparing to graduate from the Honolulu Police Academy, when I went through the weapons training, someone raised the issue that as a U.S. National I could not bear arms because I was not a U.S. citizen.  The law required that you have to be a U.S. citizen to carry arms. Of course I appealed to one of the instructors at that time and complained about why it was that in 1947 I was born on this federal soil as an American, raised as an American, and now I couldn’t bear arms to defend myself, and defend my city. He took that up and came back with a decision that U.S. citizens are U.S. Nationals and U.S. Nationals are not eliminated from that requirement of the law. So, in a small way, U.S. Nationals does mean something. It’s kind of a U.S. citizen that cannot vote.

So, in speaking to you about the irony of today, being born as Americans and having fought as Americans and only now receiving recognition as U.S. citizens, it’s a moment of pride but also a moment to reflect. What if, and I know this is true for many of your fallen comrades –they died without being sworn in as U.S. citizens–  they spilled their blood without being given the full rights as U.S. citizens.

As you enjoy this moment for yourself, for your families, and for America, let us not forget that there are still a lot of struggles that we have to face in order to elevate ourselves to full recognition of who and what we are as a people. I think we are special in all the other things because you can only become a full U.S. citizen through naturalization.

I hope that the day will come soon when our birth as Americans will truly count. And when that day comes, you will come back and remember this very special day. This is the first time military personnel have been sworn in as U.S. citizens in our island home. And that makes today a historical day. You, Toa o Samoa, are part of history. And it is my hope that we continue to make history.

Congratulations on your choice to serve in the U.S. Army. Congratulations on your choice to be sworn in as naturalized U.S. citizens. And congratulations on your excellent service to American Samoa and her people, and to our nation –the United States of America.

Our thanks go to our past leaders who had the vision that this day shall come for people like us. It marks a step forward in our history and it serves as a staging point for the rest of the work that we need to do as Americans. After all, we are the only other ethnic group that puts America before our ethnicity. First are the American Indians, and then in 1900 it was American Samoa. The rest of the ethnic groups place their ethnicity before America. For us, America is first and foremost. And that is where our loyalty as citizens is and that is where we look for our protection as citizens of our nation. You may be U.S. citizens but you were born Samoan."



Pago

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Re: First Military Naturalization Ceremony held in American Samoa
« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2010, 01:13:53 PM »
A pretty neat thing. And....Lee Auditorium looks great!  Sure doesn't look like the same place when I first was inside in July. 1965.

Samoa Tasi

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Re: First Military Naturalization Ceremony held in American Samoa
« Reply #2 on: September 18, 2010, 09:15:09 AM »
And in 1965 the military uniforms would have been olive drabs. These desert camos do look nice though. I don't imagine the military will have lavalava anytime soon!

 


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