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article image159 Troops Become Naturalized U.S. Citizens in Iraq

By Samantha A. Torrence     Apr 13, 2008 in World
An emotional ceremony that ushered in 159 more American citizens did not take place on United States soil, but in a former palace of Saddam Hussein.
For 159 members of the military, serving the United States was not out of duty to their home nation, but for the love of a country they wanted to claim as their own. In what was an elating ceremony the service members took the oath of citizenship in a former palace of Saddam Hussein. The largest over seas naturalization in the history of the United States will be remembered by military members who put their lives on the line for a country they believed in rather than born into.
The domed ceilings echoed with the inspiring sound of a soldier singing the "Star Spangled Banner" a Capella, which set the tone for the service member to take the oath of citizenship. They were also presented with a certificate of citizenship and a United States flag. This historical event witnessed the naturalization of service members from 58 countries.
One of the newest citizen of the U.S.A. is Evan Eskharia. Evan was a native born Iraqi that fled from the horrors of Saddam Hussein with his family in 1990. He was only 9 when his mother, father, and siblings took a journey by foot and crossed the border in Turkey. The U.S Marine found it interesting that he would receive citizenship to the United States in the very country from which his family escaped 28 years ago.
Other newly naturalized citizens also included Army Spc. Sheikh Qaisar originally of Pakistan and now a resident of Houston, Texas. Army Spc. Myakol Mayom who was born in Sudan. He fled in 2001 and said the United States support for his people made it possible for him to escape second class citizenship in Sudan to hope in America where he never felt like a refugee.
"I was living as a second citizen in my own country," Mayom said," When I came to the United States I never felt like a refugee. The U.S. saved my life. If I die tomorrow, I would die smiling because I did the right thing."
In 2004, new regulations that streamlined citizenship signed into law by President Bush, helped more than 5,000 soldiers have been naturalized. Since Sept. 11, 2001 140 foreign-born U.S Soldiers have died while on active duty with some becoming naturalized posthumously.
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