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Sixteen Soldiers from Fort Knox, Campbell become U.S. citizens at local ceremony

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By ERIC PILGRIM

History was made as Fort Knox was made host to an oath of citizenship Sept. 19 for 16 Soldiers serving on active duty in the state of Kentucky.

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According to immigration and naturalization officials, the ceremony, held in the General George Patton Museum’s Abrams Auditorium, was a first for Fort Knox.

Among the 16 Soldiers, most of whom were from Fort Campbell, stood Staff Sgt. Damian Stewart, a platoon sergeant for Forward Support Company, 19th Engineer Battalion, who acknowledged he was the highest ranked Soldier in the group.

“It’s been a long time coming, and I’ve been putting it off to go to school and other things,” said Stewart. “I had a lot of free time so I thought, ‘Hey, why not?’”

Stewart and the others introduced themselves to the panel at the beginning of the ceremony. The
honorable Regina Edwards, a U.S. Magistrate judge, then administered the oath of citizenship after the
petitioner’s motion of admission by Russell Cole-man, a U.S. attorney.

Soldiers raised their right hands and solemnly swore allegiance to the United States of America. Following the oath, the Soldiers watched a video of President Donald Trump, lauding their decision.

“We share one American heart, and one American destiny,” said Trump. “It is a destiny filled with love, opportunity and hope. We celebrate this day; we welcome you into our national family, we applaud your devotion to America, and we embrace the wonderful future we will have together.”

As the guest speaker, Brig. Gen. Kevin Vereen, deputy commanding general of Operations at U.S. Army Recruiting Command, thanked and further encouraged the Soldiers.

“I applaud you for wanting your citizenship, and also for wanting to serve,” said Vereen. “You are part of a great profession in the United States Army, and what makes our Army so great is really our diversity.”

Vereen said.

Among those in attendance was guest speaker Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Kentucky secretary of state. She honored the Soldiers and asked them to exercise their great right of citizenship and vote in the upcoming elections.

From Kingston, Jamaica, Stewart said his 14 years in the Army started in basic training at Fort Knox, but his dream to serve began much earlier, surrounded by many men in his life who had served in the military, whether in Jamaica or the United States.

“This was something I always wanted to do growing up,” Stewart said. “It’s a family tradition. I joined the U.S. Army because, honestly, it’s the best army in the world, hands down. I’m truly blessed to be in the military; it has given me so much. By me joining, everything has been working out just fine.” n