By Jade Marceau–Mary
The Naturalization & Oath of Allegiance Ceremony at Scott Air Force Base took place on Friday, June 30th, 2023. The ceremony was structured into nine sections. First, the countries were called and the Honored Guests were introduced on stage. “I’ve had my citizenship since 2000, but it’s nice to now participate with families and friends, because when I received it I was in DC by myself as a soldier, so I had no family around,” said Shurma Lee, one of the Honored Guests. Once everybody was on stage, the USTRANSCOM Color Guard presented the colors. Following that, Scott Air Force Base sang in unison the National Anthem while led by the USAF Band of Mid America, and then prayed together. All were then honored with the moving tellings of Airmen A1C Salat Ali & A1C Bianca Groft. “I became a citizen in 2012, but I never got the chance to have a ceremony like this, so I feel honored. This is a very nice ceremony to have to be recognized, that people who are immigrants or refugees exist, and that they are important to our defense, our society, and our economy. I’m very happy to be recognized by my duty-ship to put something together like this,” said Salat Ali, one of the guest speakers at the event and refugee from Somalia. General Mike Minihan then gave his speech as the keynote speaker of the event. “The US is a country founded on immigrants, and the citizens that we honored today chose to raise their right hand before they were citizens. We recognize their devotion to the country and their family today,“ said General Minihan. He gave a speech to the assembly, reminding all how these people served and protected the country while they were not even Americans yet, and then led the Oath of Allegiance. President Biden then gave a recorded message to the assembly, and it was the beginning of the reception. “Challenge yourself, go talk to somebody, get to know them, and see them as people, you might learn something new,” said Ali.