By Matt Bush
This Memorial Day will be extra special for a local group of active members of the military. It's because they're now naturalized U.S. citizens.
Jose Torres-Cubban is a private first class in the Army, stationed at Fort Meade in Maryland. His journey to the U.S. took time. He and his parents left Panama when he was 4 in the 1980's, during a time of political strife and war in the country. They settled in Canada, all the while waiting to get into the U.S. Torres-Cubban says it took more than 10 years.
"It seemed like a very involved process, and I know as soon as my mom was eligible for U.S. citizenship, she went for it. And so did my brother. Mainly, because they understood not being in the United States, how valuable it is to live here," says Torres-Cubban.
He says the long journey to U.S. citizenship will mean all the more to him this Memorial Day, especially because he will soon be deployed to Afghanistan.
"I'm newly married. I'm a new United States citizen. I'm preparing to deploy. I guess, I really will take stock in my life and see where I am now and see it as a starting point to move forward as an American citizen," he says.
Since the 9-11 terrorist attacks almost nine years ago, close to 60,000 active members of the U.S. military have become naturalized citizens.