Story and photos by Wendy Brown
U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden Public Affairs
Alina Newburn’s first act after becoming a naturalized citizen was to visit a table where she could fill out the paperwork necessary for her to obtain a United States passport.
“It feels great ― free,” said Newburn, from Russia, about her new citizenship. “I can travel anywhere now.”
Newburn was one of three Wiesbaden military spouses who became citizens during a ceremony May 15 at the U.S. Consulate General of the United States in Frankfurt. The special ceremony was for members of the military and their spouses, and a total of 36 people from 19 countries took the Oath of Allegiance to become citizens.
Frankfurt Consul General Kevin Milas was the event’s keynote speaker, and he congratulated the country’s new citizens for their hard work.
“Hard work pays off,” Milas said. “You earned something today that many people around the world thirst for, and I say that people want to be Americans with unabashed pride as an American citizen.”
“I’m proud to be an American not because the United States is the wealthiest or the freest or even the best country on the face of the Earth. A lot of people think it’s true, but there are other countries where people are wealthy and free and also think that their country is the best in the world. I say it because I am close enough to my own immigrant roots to realize how lucky I was to be born an American citizen, Milas said.
“When my grandparents left Poland and chose to become Americans 100 years ago, the world, America and the path to citizenship was very different, but the one thing that has not changed is the boundless opportunities and possibilities that we see as Americans,” Milas said.
After Milas congratulated the new citizens on their hard work, President Barack Obama, in a video, promptly encouraged them to continue working hard.
“With the privilege of citizenship…come great responsibilities, and so I ask that you use your freedoms and your talents to contribute to the good of our nation and the world,” Obama said.
He continued, “Always remember that in America, no dream is impossible. Like the millions of immigrants who have come before you, you have the opportunity to enrich this country through your contributions to civic society, business, culture and your community. You can help write the next great chapter in our American story, and together we can keep the beacon that is America burning bright for all the world to see.”
Yarineth Diaz, a Wiesbaden military spouse from Panama, said joining her husband and three children in U.S. citizenry was her main reason for wanting to become a U.S. citizen. “I wanted to be part of the same country,” she said.
Silke Johnson, a Wiesbaden military spouse from Germany, said she wanted to become a U.S. citizen because her father was a U.S. citizen and her husband is a U.S. Soldier and a citizen. Milas, a former military child, pointed out during his speech that family members serve the nation alongside service members, and Johnson said she believes that to be true.
“It’s great because I love the United States, and I love being a service member with my husband and my kids,” Johnson said.