View Full Version : Soldiers, Marines gain U.S. citizenship

09-24-07, 01:20 PM
Soldiers, Marines gain U.S. citizenship
Replica flag hoisted during naturalization ceremony at Fort McHenry

By Nick Madigan

Sun reporter

1:16 PM EDT, September 24, 2007

There was something unusual about the naturalization ceremony that took place this morning at Fort McHenry: All but one of the 14 new U.S. citizens are members of the military, and several have already served in Iraq.

They started to gather at the historic South Baltimore fort early today, getting ready for the 10 a.m. ceremony during which they took the Oath of Allegiance and helped raise a 23-by-42-foot replica of the Star-Spangled Banner that flew over the fort on Sept. 14, 1814, and inspired Francis Scott Key to write what is now the national anthem.

Many came early, enjoying a bright blue sky and posing for pictures with the fort as a backdrop.

Sgt. Iyan Mohamed was among the first to arrive, along with her mother and sister. Based at Walter Reed Army Medical Center Institute of Research in a security unit, she said she had always wanted to become an American citizen even if she had never joined the military.

She is a refugee from Somalia and lived in Egypt for nine years before coming to America in the early 2000s. She joined the Army in 2003, though she has not been sent to Iraq. She said her father had been in the Somalian army and is now living in exile in Kenya. She applied for citizenship in January. She lives with her family in Silver Spring and has a brother in the U.S. Marines.

Becoming a citizen, Mohamed said, "is a completion. Becoming a United States citizen was always the point." Of the military, she said, "I like the challenge. My dad was in the Somalian military and I wanted to be just like my dad."