Mar 20, 2014 11:00 PM by Tony Spehar
Thirteen people, most of them service members, became Americans at a naturalization ceremony on Fort Carson on Thursday afternoon.
Since 2009 new citizens have been sworn-in every month on the Mountain Post, the garrison commander said around 150 people become naturalized citizens at Fort Carson every year. The people who became Americans on Thursday came from 12 nations including Columbia, South Korea and China and most are currently serving in the military.
"September 2001 I was there pretty close to the World Trade Center, I heard the plane fly into the first building and the second one," described Specialist Meng Li, who came to the United States from China 14-years ago. "I live in this country, I want to defend this country."
As various as their homelands were the reasons so many of the new citizens felt the call to serve.
"I just wanted to go to school at the beginning, but I just wanted to do something great with my life," explained Pfc. Soyoung Pilcher, who came to America after meeting her husband in South Korea while he was stationed there.
Though Spc. Li and Pfc. Pilcher wear the uniform and defend our country, they couldn't officially call themselves "Americans" until Thursday. Leaders from Fort Carson, Citizenship and Immigration Services and Senator Michael Bennet attended the ceremony where the 13 took their oathes and finally received the rights and privileges that some of us who were born here sometimes take for granted.
"I just always thought to be an American is a really great feeling," said Pfc. Pilcher.
Family, friends and fellow soldiers were on hand at Thursday's ceremony to support their comrades and welcome them as fellow citizens.
"It just makes me feel they like they're really my family here," Spc. Li said of his unit.
The new Americans proudly held up their certificates of citizenship that officially marked them as US citizens, though it was clear many of them were already American in spirit long before Thursday's ceremony.
"Me and my husband, we always thought we were really blessed, very lucky," explained Pfc. Pilcher. "So I want to do something great for the world."
It was also clear that the United States has gained some great new citizens.
"It's inspired me that I want to be an officer as well, take care of the soldiers," said Spc. Li.