BALTIMORE - U.S. officials on Wednesday administered the Oath of Allegiance to 17 veterans or active-duty members of the military who became America’s newest citizens ahead of Veterans Day.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas administered the oath during a special naturalization ceremony in celebration of Veterans Day at the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House, a U.S. national historic landmark in Baltimore, Maryland.
All 17 people who became U.S. citizens are veterans or active-duty members of the military representing all services, officials said. They originate from eight different countries: Cameroon, China, El Salvador, Germany, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal and South Korea.
The 17 veterans or active-duty military members are pictured during the naturalization ceremony in celebration of Veterans Day on Nov. 10, 2021, in Baltimore, Maryland. Credit: Star Spangled Banner National Historic Trail / National Parks Service
Those who wish to enlist in the military do not have to be U.S. citizens, though they may have fewer options. They are required to live in the U.S., have a green card, and speak, read and write English fluently.
Becoming a U.S. citizen also requires completing a series of steps, including an application and interview process. Citizenship is not fully granted until taking the Oath of Allegiance at a naturalization ceremony.
As part of Wednesday’s ceremony, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Ur Jaddou also signed a "memorandum of understanding" with Shawn Benge, the National Park Service deputy director of operations.
"This agreement advances the meaning and stature of citizenship by building connections between new citizens and America’s parks," according to a statement from DHS. "USCIS and NPS first signed an agreement in 2006 to connect America’s newest citizens to national parks, which provide an ideal backdrop for naturalization ceremonies."
FILE - A new American citizen holds an Oath of Allegiance card during a Naturalization Ceremony at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Headquarters on May 27, 2021, in Camp Springs, Maryland. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty I
USCIS has held naturalization ceremonies at dozens of National Park Service locations, including Ellis Island, Yosemite, Mount Rushmore and the Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine, officials said.
Mayorkas also recognized the naturalized citizens as "Outstanding Americans by Choice," a program that recognizes those who have made significant contributions to their community and their adopted country "through civic participation, professional achievement and responsible citizenship."
Other events marking Veterans Day 2021
Businesses and organizations are coming together to thank and honor veterans and active-duty service members for Veterans Day, which is Nov. 11. Click here for a running list of free goods, services and discounts being offered.
Most businesses will require proof of military service to access these discounts.
In addition, the FOX Corporation and its employees are working with U.S.VETS to support their "Make Camo Your Cause" campaign by spreading awareness to the campaign and wearing camo to support the cause on Veterans Day.
In order to bring visibility and awareness to the campaign, FOX is asking businesses to purchase apparel from U.S.VETS online shop and wear camo with U.S.VETS this Veterans Day and post on social media using #HONORUSVETS. U.S.VETS is also looking for volunteers in the fight against veteran homelessness.
"If you are compassionate, hardworking, or just looking for a way to give back to the community, volunteering at a U.S.VETS location would be a rewarding experience for you," U.S.VETS wrote.
The national nonprofit relies on corporate and community support to help reach its goal through partnerships including direct financial contributions, employee giving and matching gifts, campaigns, grants and employee volunteer engagement.
In addition, employers can "hire a vet" through the U.S.VETS Career Network, which connects professional and student veterans with lasting careers they love.
Donations to the organization can also be made on its website.
U.S.VETS is the largest nonprofit organization with boots on the ground to combat America’s veteran homeless crisis head-on. Its comprehensive approach provides housing, counseling, career and supportive services to help U.S. veterans rebuild and thrive.
The organization has 32 sites across 11 regional locations in California, Nevada, Arizona, Hawaii, Texas, and Washington D.C. and offers temporary and permanent housing solutions and comprehensive services to veterans and their families nationwide.
This story was reported from Cincinnati. This station is owned by the FOX Corporation.