Lisa Anne O'Connor Dalton first saw Boston from the water a decade ago, when she sailed into the city as a crew member on one of the tall ships that had crossed the Atlantic. She fell for Boston, hard, and came back as soon as she could. Seven years ago, as her father was dying in Ireland, he made her promise to continue sailing in America.
Yesterday, the paralegal, who also teaches blind children and adults to sail, found herself on another ship: the USS Constitution, where she and 26 other immigrants officially became American citizens. O'Conner Dalton, whose team of blind and sighted sailors won a bronze medal in last year's Blind Sailing World Championship Regatta, was accompanied by her husband, John Dalton, an man from Ireland she met in America, and who will become a citizen this fall.
"It couldn't be anymore fitting," O'Connor Dalton said this afternoon, a few minutes before she and her fellow citizens-to-be climbed aboard the USS Constitution. "I sail beside her all the time."
Yesterday, on the deck of the world's oldest still-afloat commissioned warship, on the day celebrating the birthday of the country, the country's newest citizens, 17 women and 10 men, were the guests of honor. They included a young Moroccan woman who won a visa through the green card lottery and now works as a housekeeper in a Boston hotel; a Brazilian woman from Medford who just finished basic training in the Army National Guard; a Wellesley College human rights leader and Harvard Law School graduate from Sri Lanka; and a husband and wife, born in India, who met at the University of Southern California and now live with their son in Newton.
Once the immigrants were pronounced official citizens, no one grinned more broadly than Lorraine Smith of Belmont, who moved to the United States with her family when she was a toddler.
During the history-steeped ceremony, overseen by U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Gertner, asking them promise to defend the Constitution and the laws of the United States against enemies, renounce allegiance to all foreign leaders and sovereignties and agree to bear arms on behalf of their new country when required by law.
The swearing-in ceremony was one of 55 across the country over the few days around Independence Day to naturalize about 3,800 new citizens. Some of the new citizens, including nine at the Charlestown ceremony, are already members of the U.S. military.
Kathleen Burge can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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