Joanne Taylor pumped her fist in the air and laughed as she exclaimed. “I’m an American!”
Taylor, born in the Philippines, was one of 22 people sworn in Friday as naturalized American citizens.
Many of those sworn in during ceremonies at the USS Nautilus in Groton had military ties, including Navy Hospital Corpsman Bradley Whittle.
“Joining the military was a big deal to me and becoming a citizen full fills being an American,”said Whittle.
Whittle has been in the US eight years after spending most of his life in the UK.
Like the other new American citizens he’s excited. New privileges will come, and more opportunity to fulfill his naval ambitions.
“(The Navy) doesn’t let you do a lot of things that other American Citizens can do,” explained Whittle. “Finally being a citizen now means I can fully do my job and have security clearance and things like that.”
The group represented 16 different countries, including Spain. Manuela Irving moved from Madrid to the US in 1990.
“I’ve been in this country 29 years and I’m just so happy to be a US citizen,” said Irving.
For her, the United States is not only home, but also the country her husband has served in the military for 33 years. To be able to say she too is an American, tightens their bond.
“It was incredible. It was a long time coming,” said Keith Irving, a master sergeant for the US Army. “We talked about it for 30 years and finally to have this day happen is incredible.”
Manuela remembers difficult times, initially moving from the big city of Madrid to a small town in New Hampshire. She did not speak English then. She has since mastered the language and wants her voice heard.
“I want to vote,” she said, “I want to make a difference.”
Holding today’s ceremonies at the USS Nautilus museum was not only a nice setting, it had symbolic meaning as well. The Nautilus’ developer - Hyman G. Rickover - was born in Russia and became a naturalized citizen himself.