Island hosts its first modern naturalization ceremony

The new citizens received their certificates, and shared their reasons for seeking them.


On Friday afternoon, the Dukes County Superior Courthouse in Edgartown held a naturalization ceremony for 14 new U.S. citizens. 

The ceremony was the first modern naturalization ceremony held on the Vineyard, according to federal immigration officials.

“There were different processes in the ’20s, the ’30s and the ’40s, and I can’t account for those,” said Denis Riordan, Boston district director for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. “But going back through records into the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, up until today, there is no record of a naturalization ceremony here on Martha’s Vineyard … We’d love to [hold another here.]”

The ceremony was an emotional one for those getting their citizenship.

“[Gaining citizenship] feels great,” says Cape Cod resident Lyudmila Lewandowski, who emigrated from Bulgaria. “I have my freedom right now — I get to be there for my child, my family.” 

Naturalization applicants sat in the center rows of the courthouse during the ceremony, with their family, friends, and handheld U.S. flags. Justice Elaine Buckley, an associate justice of Suffolk County Superior Court, faced the applicants while presiding over the ceremony.

The ceremony continued with the Oath of Allegiance, administered to applicants by Clerk of Court T. George Davis. Applicants renounced allegiance to foreign states, and pledged to defend the U.S. and its laws. They also vowed, when required by law, to bear arms and perform work of national importance for the U.S.

Throughout the ceremony, Justice Buckley offered words of recognition, commendation, and advice. “The journey of migration to another country is one of the most courageous acts an individual can take, and today we celebrate that courage,” Buckley said.

“As part of your oath today, you renounced the citizenship of your birth country, but do not renounce your culture,” she added. “You can shape the destiny of this country on a local, state, and national level. We ask that you cherish that power, that you exercise the right to vote, and do not take that power for granted.”

Riordan also addressed the room, praising the new citizens. “People think we give citizenship away, people think immigrants take,” Riordan said. “Immigrants give. We’re not giving you certificates. Immigrants earn them. You say goodbye to mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, friends. Many of you didn’t speak the language, but you came. When you came here, you worked hard.”

Applicants were then called one by one to receive naturalization certificates, some posing for photos and some tearing up.

Though the ceremony was the same for each new citizen, they all came with their own stories, and left with their own hopes. Hyannis resident Emerson Alves, from Brazil, came to the U.S. “because I believe in the Constitution, and want to vote in the next election.”

When asked why she sought citizenship, Lewandowski replied, “I like the country. I used to travel a lot, so I just ended up here … And I met my husband.” Lewandowski also looks forward to life as a citizen. “I’m looking forward to voting; I can’t wait … It’s a big change, but life just continues the same way.”

Edgartown resident Una McEntee, of Belfast, Northern Ireland, also looked forward to voting: “I come from Ireland, and the vote was very hard-won, especially for Catholics at the time when I was growing up in the Troubles, and hundreds and hundreds of years before that.”

When asked how she felt about receiving U.S. citizenship, McEntee replied, “Absolutely marvelous. It’s a long, long journey … Very, very proud. My family’s very, very proud. Unfortunately, they’re not here to share it with me — it’s bittersweet.”

“I was in academia for a long time, was supposed to get a job as a professor and things like that, and it didn’t happen,” she continued. “[The job] was given to a Protestant person. So my parents said to me, ‘Why don’t you take those pieces of paper [and] come to America?’ I’d been offered a job here … to manage the Kelley House in the Harbor View Hotel, back in 1994, and that’s what I did. I said goodbye to my family, my friends, all my culture, everything that I knew, and I guess the rest is history. Got married, have two children, and I live here. I have a home in Edgartown.”

The new citizens also reflected on the process leading up to the ceremony. “Even though you’re doing the right thing and have nothing to hide or lie about, you fear they are going to reject [you], or [that you won’t] be approved,” said Lewandowski. “But at the end of the day, it worked well as long as you did the right thing.”

“It’s long. It’s very involved,” said McEntee of the citizenship process, which she had been involved in since January. “But once you get to this step, it’s quite remarkable. It sort of just takes your breath away, the whole pomp and circumstance.”


  1. Congratulations! We welcome everyone who abides by our laws and comes here legally. Unfortunately, the Biden Administration has lost control of our borders and we are currently being overrun by foreign nationals. Our Open Borders policy makes a mockery of the good people who played by the rules and waited in line to come here. (CBS news confirmed last week that over 200,000 illegals crossed our borders in September, not including “gotaways.”)

    • Have you been treated for your BDS yet ?

      For all you know, some of these people
      may have walked to the border, turned
      themselves in, requested asylum, waited for
      a work visa and green card. And when enough
      time passed they passed the test, jumped
      through all the hoops, paid the fees
      and got citizenship.Their journey may very well
      have started with swimming across the Rio Grand
      at night, finding an immigration officer and LEGALLY
      turning themselves in.
      You don’t know, and neither do I about these individuals
      but it is certainly the LEGAL path for many of those
      so-called illegals that you constantly berate.
      And imagine that— you actually believe CBS news–

      • Don, your sarcasm is grating and unhelpful. The facts keep piling up and even Democrats and Blue Sanctuary cities are begging for the illegal influx to stop. Why are you hiding from the truth? The House Judiciary Committee announced Monday that 3.8 million illegals have arrived in the US since Biden took office (source: DHS). Have you read about the Migrant Train heading for our Southern Border? The Oct. 7th front page story in the Herald details the failure of Gov. Healey to address the migrant crisis in our state. Currently we are spending over $1 million PER DAY to house illegals in hotels. This is madness. You feel confident in your liberal opinions safe on an island miles from reality. That’s a luxury most of us cannot afford.

        • peter, your comments are grating and unhelpful.

          How did you want Healy to address the migrant crisis?
          Use taxpayer money to charter private jets to fly them Florida?

          The Herald? You mean Boston’s premier low brow rag. Always feeding the fears of the poorly educated. Rupee called the 2020 election for Trump, go figure.

          • Ah, more pearls of wisdom from Al. When you don’t like the facts, you attack the messenger. Gov. Healy is another failing Democrat governor who’s ideology is collapsing when faced with reality. Sitting on your hands from the safety of MV is no excuse for cheering on the destruction of your country.

          • Hey AL, there’s a migrant train headed north in Mexico. How about you help out by taking in a few hundred in your house and your neighbors houses? The long suffering taxpayers would greatly appreciate your generosity!

      • New data is in from ICE: currently 5.7 million migrants (read illegals) are being “overseen” by ICE in the US. President Biden now wants to give free medical care, food and housing to these “non-detained” migrants. The cost of this move is in the billions. This is madness. This president should be impeached over this issue if he is not on the current issue of corruption and influence peddling along with his son. History will not judge him kindly.

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