|Dear friend,“I am an Italian-American. My roots are deep in an ancient soil, drenched by the Mediterranean sun, and watered by pure streams from snow capped mountains. I am enriched by thousands of years of culture.”
These are the opening words of the poem “I am an Italian-American.”*
As proud Italian-Americans, we are reminded of those words of declaration each October when we pause to honor our heritage. We stop not only to think about the famed explorer Christopher Columbus, but to reflect on the accomplishments of the Italians and Italian-Americans that came before and have come since. Those who planted the seeds of our beloved heritage in the United States, and those who have nurtured them for centuries.
We think about William Paca, Mother Cabrini and Constantino Brumidi … Ella Grasso, Enrico Fermi and John Basilone, and their historical and ground-breaking achievements.
The Commission for Social Justice (CSJ) and the Sons of Italy Foundation (SIF) want to ensure that all Americans, especially those of Italian ancestry, also remember these trail-blazers and their contributions to the political, social, cultural, and scientific fabric of America and the world.
The CSJ, the Sons of Italy’s anti-defamation arm, does its part to educate about the positive contributions of our community often while simultaneously battling negative stereotypes. Recently, our fight took us to New Jersey, in a campaign against the MTV series “Jersey Shore.” We consider the campaign a success – a number of major national companies pulled their advertising, recognizing the damaging stereotypes the show perpetuates. Those “Jersey Shore” characters are not the Italian Americans we honor every October!
The SIF, the Sons of Italy’s philanthropic arm, helps strengthen our heritage in part by supporting projects and groups that celebrate Italian culture. Among them, the SIF’s very own Garibaldi-Meucci Museum, which maintains historical exhibits, conducts Italian language classes and offers a speakers’ bureau; and the Columbus Citizens Foundation, which is responsible for coordinating the nation’s largest Columbus Day parade in New York.
As we continue our essential work – not just in October, but every day of every month, year-round – we think of these (excerpted) closing words of the poem mentioned above:
“I will not be told that my contribution is any less nor my role not as worthy as that of any other American. … I am an Italian-American.”
We identify with these words, embrace them, and we recite them proudly. We think them worth celebrating by staying true to our heritage, by honoring our families and ancestors, and by doing our part to promote the collective accomplishments of nearly 26 million Italian-Americans today.
Join us in proclaiming, “We are Italian-Americans!” If you feel the way we do about our unique heritage, please give a gift in support of our important work. No amount is too small, and every gift – to the CSJ or the SIF – iscompletely tax-deductible. Your meaningful contribution will help us continue to preserve, promote and protect our precious heritage.
Thank you for your support. Happy Italian-American Heritage Month!
Santina Hammerle, President Vincent Sarno, President
Commission for Social Justice Sons of Italy Foundation
* “I am an Italian-American” by Angelo Bianchi, Esq., Sons of Italy Foundation trustee and Commission for Social Justice past president.