Obama Welcomes New U.S. Citizens at Seoul Ceremony
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 25, 2014 President Barack Obama today welcomed 20 new U.S. citizens during a naturalization ceremony held at the War Memorial of Korea in Seoul.
President Barack Obama at a naturalization ceremony in Seoul, April 25, 2014. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Thirteen of the new citizens are members of the U.S. military and seven are the spouses of U.S. service members.
“I have said before, I have no higher honor than serving as your Commander-in-Chief. And today, I can think of no higher privilege than being here with all of you and your families for this special moment -- becoming the newest citizens of the world’s oldest constitutional democracy,” Obama said at the ceremony.
Each of the new American citizens, Obama said, “have traveled your own path to this moment.”
“You come from 14 different countries. Some of you have called Seoul home,” he added. “But a day came when each one of you did something extraordinary: Thirteen of you made the profound decision to put on the uniform of a country that was not yet fully your own. Seven of you married an American soldier -- and as a military spouse, that means you’ve been serving our country, too.”
America is strengthened by its immigrants, Obama said.
“I had a chance to talk to our ambassador and our commander here, and I said to them that there's no greater strength, no greater essence of America than the fact that we attract people from all around the world who want to be part of our democracy,” he said. “We are a nation of immigrants -- people from every corner, every walk of life, who picked up tools to help build our country, who started up businesses to advance our country, who took up arms to defend our country.”
All Americans share “a joyful spirit of citizenship,” Obama said.
“Citizenship demands participation and responsibility, and service to our country and to one another,” he said. “And few embody that more than our men and women in uniform.”
If America wants to keep attracting the best and the brightest people to join its military, Obama said, then it must remember the important role of immigrants in U.S. history and the value of immigrants to the American way of life.
Immigration to the United States, he said, is “central” to American DNA.
“It's part of our creed,” Obama said.