Seoul, Republic of Korea–(ENEWSPF)–April 25, 2014 – 1:28 P.M. KST
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, good afternoon. Annyeonghaseyo. It is an honor to be here at the War Memorial of Korea. In a few moments, I’ll lay a wreath to pay tribute to our servicemembers who’ve given their lives in defense of our freedom. And tomorrow, I’ll address our troops and civilians at Yongsan Garrison.
I have said before, I have no higher honor than serving as your Commander-in-Chief. And today, I can think of no higher privilege than being here with all of you and your families for this special moment — becoming the newest citizens of the world’s oldest constitutional democracy.
I know that each of you have traveled your own path to this moment. You come from 14 different countries. Some of you have called Seoul home. But a day came when each one of you did something extraordinary: Thirteen of you made the profound decision to put on the uniform of a country that was not yet fully your own. Seven of you married an American soldier -– and as a military spouse, that means you’ve been serving our country, too.
If there’s anything that this should teach us, it’s that America is strengthened by our immigrants. I had a chance to talk to our Ambassador and our Commander here, and I said to them that there’s no greater strength, no greater essence of America than the fact that we attract people from all around the world who want to be part of our democracy. We are a nation of immigrants — people from every corner, every walk of life, who picked up tools to help build our country, who started up businesses to advance our country, who took up arms to defend our country.
What makes us Americans is something more than just the circumstances of birth, what we look like, what God we worship, but rather it is a joyful spirit of citizenship. Citizenship demands participation and responsibility, and service to our country and to one another. And few embody that more than our men and women in uniform.
If we want to keep attracting the best and the brightest, the smartest and the most selfless the world has to offer, then we have to keep this in mind: the value of our immigrants to our way of life. It is central to who we are; it’s in our DNA. It’s part of our creed. And that means moving forward we’ve got to fix our broken immigration system and pass common-sense immigration reform.
This is a huge advantage to us — the talent that we attract. We don’t want to make it harder; we want to make it more sensible, more efficient. That’s why I’m going to keep on pushing to get this done this year, so that others like the young men and women here have the opportunity to join our American family and serve our great nation.
Today, I’m thrilled that, in a few moments, I’ll get to call each of you my fellow Americans. I am so proud to be sharing this stage with you today. Congratulations. But I don’t want to talk too long because I’m not the main event. Thank you very much for your service. (Applause.)
1:32 P.M. KST