In front of a crowd of family and friends twelve sailors stationed at Lemoore Naval Air Station, took an oath, swearing allegiance to the United States. The men and woman were not legal U.S. citizens until Tuesday. All twelve were born in nine different countries across the world.
Ronald Melanson said, "Being a U.S. citizen now, opens up more doors."
These sailors have already spent years defending our country. For them, this ceremony gives new meaning to serving in the Navy.
Luiz Ferreira said, "It feels that I'm really American now it feels I'm really part of the country before I was defending the country that I was part of to become a part of it and now I'm American it feels great."
Ferreira came to the United States from Brazil when he was 15 years old. He's proud to serve in the Navy. He says he knew the U.S. was a place where he could build a better life.
Ferreira said, "I was able to go through school I'm still going and achieving my bachelor's degree and so on and more opportunities and at the same time I have a sense of accomplishment in everything I do."
Ferreira was overcome with joyful emotion when the ceremony was completed. Jose Puentes originally from Mexico says he, too, was emotional.
Puentes said, "I want a better future for myself my family my kid my wife."
Puentes' 2-year-old son, Michael, and wife Blanca are already United States citizens. Puentes says he felt proud during the naturalization ceremony.
Puentes said, "I like this country. I felt proud being an American now, considering myself an American."
Lemoore Naval Air Station Commanding Officer Eric Venema encouraged the sailors to continue pursuing their dream, adding that he could relate with their achievement of becoming U.S. citizens. "In August of 1862 my mom and dad stood up just like you did just now and took the oath of citizenship and it's a tremendous accomplishment."
Venema's parents were originally German citizens with his father also serving in the U.S. Navy.