League of Women Voters of Greater Haverhill participated in the swearing in of more than 700 new citizens last Wednesday in Lowell. Those involved were, from left, M. Eva Rajczyk, Kay Herlihy, Margaret Toomey, Carole Pelchat, Valerie Osborne, Roz McKeon and Jane Hucks.
Note: This story was updated to clarify only new citizens have until Feb. 29 to register to vote in the presidential primary election. The deadline for all others has passed.
M. Eva Rajczyk and six other members of the League of Women Voters of Greater Haverhill played important roles last Wednesday in welcoming more than 700 new United States citizens.
In advance of Judge Henry J. Boroff conferring citizenship on immigrants from 90 countries at Lowell Memorial Auditorium, Rajczyk delivered the welcome speech.
“It has been a long road to this ceremony. I don’t need to tell you that. You have traveled that road for many years,” Rajczyk told the crowd. “Along the way, you proved your character and your commitment. As a result, you have earned your place as fellow Americans. I know the pride and joy you feel today. They must be the same as mine was when, 51years ago, members of my family and I became American citizens,” she said.
Rajczyk and her family were forced to escape Hungary during February, 1957, following a revolution against the Soviet-backed government. More than 2,500 Hungarians and 700 Soviet troops were killed in the conflict, and 200,000 Hungarians fled as refugees before the Soviets declared victory. The family traveled to several countries before emigrating to the United States in 1959.
Rajczyk also reminded them, “Citizenship is not just about our rights. It is also about protecting those rights,” and urged them to register to vote before Feb. 29—the last day for new citizens to register to participate in Massachusetts’ presidential primary election. Anyone who was a citizen who did not register to vote before Feb. 17 cannot participate in for primary. The deadline was Feb. 10 for all others. The role of League of Women Voters of Greater Haverhill at the event was to pass out voter registration forms and give everyone a small American flag.
“The best way to be involved in shaping and running the United States of America is to vote whenever a local, state or national election is scheduled. The people we elect speak for all of us and they shape the future, not just for us, but for our children, our elderly, and our needy. It is critical for you to remember that voting is your voice in America. Your vote is what politicians hear and respond to,” she said.
Boroff “recounted his own history of having been born to immigrant parents who had survived the horrors of the Nazi concentration camps,” she said. Following his speech, a reading of the Pledge of Allegiance was led by two children of one of the new citizens, the National Anthem was played and a welcoming message from President Barack Obama was presented.
Rajczyk is secretary and a founding board member of Asperger Works. She is a retired mathematics/computer teacher, who spent much of her career at Lawrence High School working with teenagers who were behind the rest of their classmates scholastically and/or had special needs. She received her bachelor’s in history and social science from Salem State College and her master’s in educational technology from Leslie University.