Bidens Attend Naturalization Ceremony in Iraq
(July 8, 2010)
|CAMP VICTORY, Iraq, July 4, 2010 – Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Dr.
Jill Biden, presided over a naturalization ceremony in Al Faw Palace here today
in honor of 156 servicemembers who earned their U.S. citizenship through service
to the nation.|
Backed by a ceiling-high U.S. flag, Biden congratulated the nation's
newest citizens -- who represented all branches of service and 56
different countries -- calling them a "remarkable" group.
"What a sight you are today," the vice president told the troops in
the ornate palace atrium. "What a powerful symbol you represent to
all those who yearn for freedom all across the world."
The ceremony takes place on a fitting day, Biden said. "This Fourth
of July weekend, I'm reminded that you have carried the torch of our
founding fathers, the one that they lit 234 years ago," he said.
"You carried it around the world, in this case in a uniform
representing a nation that, until now, was not your own."
Vice President Joe Biden congratulates a
soldier on becoming a U.S. citizen during a naturalization
ceremony in Al Faw Palace on Camp Victory, Iraq, July 4,
2010. Biden's wife, Dr. Jill Biden, and Army Gen. Raymond T.
Odierno, commander of U.S. Forces Iraq, also attended the
event, during which more than 150 U.S. servicemembers became
Biden said he can't think of a more stirring example of
patriotism than men and women volunteering "to fight for
their country, to put their lives on the line -- and some of
your brethren, having lost their lives and limbs -- to fight
on foreign soil for their adopted country."|
Serving in Iraq has not been easy, the vice president
acknowledged. But each time he visits here, he said, he sees
"This nation, once embroiled in sectarian strife and
violence, is moving toward a lasting security and prosperity
with a government that represents the interest of every
member of the community in Iraq,” he said. “When the new
government is formed, it will mark something absolutely
extraordinary: a peaceful transition of power encompassing
all the people of Iraq."
The United States is committed to cementing an ongoing
relationship with Iraq through economic, political and
diplomatic cooperation, he added.
Biden said he projected last summer that by now the United
States would have achieved progress toward two goals:
helping Iraq become a "sovereign, stable and self-reliant"
nation and ending the combat mission after more than seven
"And I'm proud to report that because of you, and tens of
thousands of our sons and daughters, including our son,
we've made good on that promise," he said, referring to his
son, Beau, an officer in the Delaware Army National Guard
who served in Iraq.
As of today, about 82,000 U.S. troops are in Iraq, down from
165,000 at the height of the surge. The number will drop to
50,000 by the end of the summer, and the troops will remain
in an "advise-and-assist" role. The U.S.-Iraqi security
agreement calls for all U.S. troops to be out of Iraq by the
end of 2011.
For the troops who remain, Biden pledged to provide them
with everything they need and to care for their families.
That commitment extends to when they return home, he added.
"Quite simply, we owe you," he said. "We owe all of you. And
we owe your families."
Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, commander of U.S. Forces Iraq,
also spoke at the ceremony, expressing his gratitude for the
servicemembers who chose to become citizens. Even before
they had the right of U.S. citizenship, "you held up your
right hand and volunteered to go into harm's way."
Their service brings others liberty and hope, he said,
adding that he's honored to call them comrades in arms.
After the ceremony, the Bidens stopped by the Oasis Dining
Facility here to visit U.S. servicemembers and civilians.
The vice president then left to meet with senior Iraqi
leaders, while Dr. Biden greeted 1st Armored Division
soldiers here celebrating the Fourth of July holiday.
Article and photo By Elaine Wilson|
American Forces Press Service
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