“Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world, but the Marines don’t have that problem.” Those words spoken by our late president, Ronald Reagan, rang true during a naturalization ceremony held aboard Camp Leatherneck, Helmand province, Afghanistan, Feb. 26, where seven Marines were granted their United States citizenship.
“I’ve wanted to be a Marine since I was a kid,” said Sgt. Antoine S. Diop, customer service specialist with Combat Logistics Battalion 7. “I would watch movies that had the U.S. Marines in them, and I knew I would be one of them one day when I grew up.”
Diop was born in Oulouse, France. He grew up in a family whose history was strong and dedicated to serving one’s country with his great-grandfather serving in World War I and World War II with the French Army, and his grandfather serving in Vietnam with French Special Operations. Diop was 12 years old when he came to the U.S. settling in Atlanta, and during the ceremony he happily gave up his French citizenship to completely fulfill his American dream.
“It is an awesome feeling to officially become a U.S. citizen,” said Diop. “It has definitely been a long time coming. It feels even better having the ceremony while being deployed because I have this sense of accomplishment and belonging.”
Lance Cpl. Rodman Swanson is a dog handler and rifleman with Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, from Seattle. Swanson, who was previously a citizen of Palau, a Micronesia country located in the Pacific, said he initially joined the Marine Corps to defend America against terrorism. He has served four years in the Marine Corps and deployed on two combat tours.
“This was important to me because I have been shot at many times by insurgents, and I figured if I’m willing to put my life on the line for this country, I should be a citizen of it,” said Swanson. “It’s also important to participate in your government, and being a good citizen means making America a better place through doing your duties.”