WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Foreign born members of the armed forces celebrated the 225th anniversary of the signing of the US Constitution by swearing an oath to it and becoming US citizens.
In Wilmington the USS North Carolina is a symbol of American freedom and liberty. Monday afternoon it became a source of pride for 78 members of the United States armed forces after it gave them a new country to call home.
They came to America from all over the world and joined the United States military for different reasons.
Naval Petty Officer Octavio Henriquez joined to help protect the rights that he never had growing up in Chile.
"It's something that I always felt I needed to do," he said. "I always felt that since I lived here I needed to give something back."
While living out his goal of serving in the Navy, Henriquez set a new goal to become a United States citizen.
"I lived here for so long that it was the right thing to do," Henriquez said. "You know, become a citizen of this country and really just live out the American dream."
A dream that he realized on board the USS North Carolina when he and other members of the armed forces were sworn in as citizens.
"It felt great," Henriquez said. "All of the years that I spent on deployments and fighting for the country. Now to actually be an American citizen, it feels amazing."
The day was extra special for Srmy Spc. Luis Francisco Lopez Torres as he received his citizenship and a promotion from his platoon.
"It was a big relief to come so far and finally realize that I became an American," he said. "It provides freedoms that other countries are not allowed to have. It gives you the right to express yourself and some countries don't give you that right."
He now looks forward to exercising the rights he has earned in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Both Henriquez and Torres say the first liberty they plan on exercising is their right to vote in the upcoming election.