RLSO NW Seafair Naturalization Article

RLSO NW Seattle Seafair Fleet Week Naturalization Ceremony

August 15th, 2023

Wednesday, August 2, 2023, was a day for celebration and congratulations. In partnership with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Seattle Field Office, Region Legal Service Office Northwest (RLSO NW) hosted the 2023 Seattle Seafair Fleet Week naturalization ceremony in the shadow of the USCG Cutter Henry Blake (WLM 563). Seafair has occurred on the Seattle waterfront since 1950 to celebrate our nation’s armed forces.

In front of family, friends, and fellow service members, 21 members of the Navy, Army, Air Force, and Washington National Guard were proudly sworn in as United States Citizens. The RLSO NW Legal Assistance Department facilitated the path to citizenship for a number of the participants.

A visit to the RLSO NW Legal Assistance office is often a service member’s first step in navigating the application process. Once the service member decides to pursue citizenship, RLSO NW works closely with USCIS case agents throughout the application period to ensure the applicant understands the requirements and completes the necessary documentation. Although the process can be long and challenging, the stories below highlight these service members’ motivation to persevere.

Seaman George Anthony Cabrera

Originally from the Dominican Republic, Cabrera found himself wanting more from life. Before joining the military, he traveled to the United States with his family and saw new and exciting opportunities. From there he took steps to move to the United States and ultimately joined the U.S. Navy. When asked why he wanted to join, he explained “This country gives so many opportunities to do good and better.”

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While visibly starting to choke up he said, “The only way I could support [the United States] was by joining the Navy and armed forces.” Inspired by what he saw when he first came here with his family, Cabrera is determined to contribute to the country that has afforded him new freedom and opportunity. He “wanted to give that same kind of opportunity to this nation” by serving in the armed forces.

When asked about what this opportunity meant to him before he walked across the stage he said, “From my perspective, it opens a lot of doors for my options and being able to travel outside this country and do x-y-and z. It’s like the key to opening every door.” After taking the oath of citizenship, Cabrera paused and took a moment. Fighting back tears with a look of gratitude and elation he said, “For me it means family. It doesn’t just start with blood or end with it either. Once you join something bigger than yourself, you see the bigger picture. And not just one goal. It goes further than that. As I see it, for someone who has been in for so long, you appreciate the rank, the person, and everyone who has been before you. ” He finished by saying that it was like “opening a fresh book.” Cabrera is currently stationed on the USS Chosin, homeported in Everett, Wash.

Hospital Corpsman Apprentice Hanna Acker

In February 2016, Acker moved to the United States with her family from Frankfurt, Germany. Hanna wants to use her time in the Navy to gain hands-on experience in the medical field. As a Hospital Corpsman attached to Expeditionary Medical Facility Bravo at Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command Bremerton, Acker spends most of her time treating patients in the Urgent Care Department at Naval Hospital Bremerton. She noted that she loves the fast-paced environment that Urgent Care brings.

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When asked why she became a U.S. Citizen her answer was straightforward: “I miss home, but this gave me the best opportunity.” After the ceremony, she said that she was now “officially…able to give back to a country that helped me.” Acker plans to continue her work in the Navy as a Corpsman, honing her skills, and continuing her education in the medical field.

These service members’ stories remind us of the hard work and dedication it takes to become a U.S. Citizen. None of these individuals take that hard-earned distinction for granted. With the USCGC Henry Blake and the Seattle skyline in the background, Rear Admiral Charles E. Fosse, USCG, Commander, Thirteenth Coast Guard District, charged those swearing in to “bring honor, duty, and accomplishment” to their role as citizens of this country.