June 30, 2016 (ST. PAUL, Minnesota) — A Minnesota National Guard soldier was one of 82 new U.S. citizens naturalized in a ceremony June 29, 2016, at Harriet Island Park.
For Pvt. Ali Mohamed Dahir, a motor transport operator assigned to A Co, 134th Brigade Support Battalion, gaining U.S. citizenship was a long-awaited dream come true.
“It feels amazing. It really does,” Dahir said, after the ceremony in which he took the Oath of Allegiance. “It can’t get any better than the feeling I have right now.”
Dahir came to the United States at the age of five as a refugee from war-torn Somalia. Separated from his parents and siblings, he was raised in foster care in Minnesota.
Joining the National Guard was a way for him to give back and ensure other young people can live in peace.
“Including my own children–eventually,” he said.
Dahir was one of nearly 6,000 soldiers who recently completed a rotation to the U.S. Army’s National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, with the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division.
NTC was both a challenging and rewarding experience for Dahir. His unit conducted missions at all hours of the day and night, in triple-digit temperatures through simulated hostile territory. It provided opportunities for the soldiers to put their skills to the test, and by the end of it Dahir was one of several junior enlisted soldiers who began to stand out as leaders.
“He was one of the stars of Alpha Company,” said Lt. Col. Joe Sharkey, 134th Brigade Support Battalion commander.
And after nearly a month in the Mojave Desert, coming home to Minnesota felt amazing, Dahir said.
Less than 48 hours after arriving home, he participated in the naturalization ceremony in Saint Paul.
After U.S. Magistrate Judge Steven Rau administered the Oath of Allegiance, he spoke about his own ancestors’ experience as immigrants to the U.S.
“They had differences. Sometimes they didn’t like each other very much, as my grandfather found when he came here after World War I,” the judge said, noting that his grandfather had fought on the German side.
“But they shared a love for this country and the opportunity that it provided. And a desire to give their children and grandchildren a better life.”
Following the ceremony, Dahir said he was looking forward to some vacation over Independence Day weekend and soon thereafter celebrating the end of Ramadan with his family on Eid al-Fitr, which this year is observed on July 6.
“I’m also excited to vote this year, for the first time,” he said.
by Maj. Scott Ingalsbe
34th Red Bull Infantry Division Public Affairs