Becoming part of the few and the proud left Pvt. Edson Machado sore and breathless.
But it was another oath that left the 27-year-old Marine nearly speechless.
Before family and friends, the nine trainees and one sergeant from 10 different countries raised their right hands to become the first group of Marines at Parris Island to become U.S. citizens.
The ceremony, held during Family Day before the Marines graduate from basic training today, was part of a recent expansion of a federal initiative to expedite citizenship for active-duty military personnel who are or will be deployed. The other military branches already participate in the initiative. (Read more here.)
In order to enlist in the military, an applicant must possess a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Form I-551 Permanent Residence (green) Card if they are not a U.S. citizen, according to USCIS spokeswoman Sharon Scheidhauer.
That means that the applicant is authorized to live and work in the United States on a permanent basis and is not in the U.S. illegally. A lawful permanent resident can then apply for citizenship or naturalization only after they have been a resident for five years (three years if married to a U.S. Citizen), although that requirement is waived with military service, Scheidhauer said.
The people listed in the article - along with others that have followed their path in other branches of the military - are documented, permanent residents of the U.S. and are eligible for citizenship, regardless of their military service. The executive order signed by President George W. Bush in 2002 merely expedites the process for active-duty military who are or will be deployed, Scheidhauer said.
Find out more online at http://www.uscis.gov/military.