Local Medal of Honor recipient encourages new citizens at naturalization ceremony

U.S. Army Capt. Florent Groberg, who became a U.S. citizen in 2001 and was awarded the Medal of Honor in 2015, welcomes new citizens Monday. JPG

A special naturalization ceremony was held Monday afternoon at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Alexandria. The new Americans were saluted by a local resident and fellow naturalized citizen who is also a Medal of Honor recipient.

At the ceremony, 165 immigrants from 43 countries took the Oath of Allegiance. They were then congratulated by U.S. Army Capt. Florent Groberg.

The 33-year old became a U.S. citizen in 2001, the same year he graduated from Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda.

He competed in track and cross country at UMD, then joined the Army in 2008.

It was last November when he received the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions in Afghanistan in 2012, grabbing a suicide bomber by the vest and repeatedly shoving him away from a security detail.

The explosion still killed four men and injured several others, but it could have been much worse.

“He had the instincts and the courage to do what was needed,” President Obama said at the White House event last fall.

Groberg nearly lost his leg in the blast. Four years later, he said he is fully recovered. “I'm able to do almost anything except run,” he said.

Groberg recently joined Boeing’s Washington office as director of veterans outreach.

“I'm just thankful that I am an American. I'm thankful I was given those opportunities,” he said.

During the ceremony, he also received an Outstanding American by Choice award from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Groberg said he was honored and humbled by the recognition, but he added that the biggest honor was joining the new Americans on a day they will never forget.

“If a kid from Poissy, France who didn't speak English gets to have an opportunity to meet the President of the United States at the White House, it should tell you something about this country,” he told them. “Anything is possible.”

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