Statement by Senator John Kerry on Resolution Commemorating 150th Anniversary of Italian Unification

Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, for the past year the people of Italy have been commemorating the 150th anniversary of Italian Unification with a series of events and exhibitions throughout Italy and the world.

In this country, the Italian Embassy hosted a series of concerts, museum exhibitions, and lectures, which were widely attended and have educated and entertained Americans about the stirring story of Italy and the beauty of its culture. The Ambassador of Italy who initiated this series of commemorative events, Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata, deserves recognition for organizing this remarkable program for the American people. We wish Ambassador Terzi well in his new job as Foreign Minister and we welcome his successor Claudio Bisogniero as the new Ambassador of the Italian Republic to the United States.

There were many outstanding moments on the road to Italian unification—most notably March 15th 1861, the day Victor Emmanuel II was proclaimed the King of a single Italian state. But several weeks earlier, on February 18, 1861, the future King of Italy convened the first Italian Parliament in Turin, establishing an Italian democratic tradition that has known both triumph and tragedy. Of course, Americans don’t have to go to Italy or a cultural event to appreciate the Italian roots of our own democratic tradition. Not only did Roman history and conceptions of government inform and inspire the founders of our own government, but the sons and daughters of Italy are all around us serving the cause of American democracy. It would be impossible to name more than a few, but even a partial list gives a sense of the magnitude of the Italian-American contribution to our democracy: John Pastore, the first Italian-American elected to this Senate; Fiorello LaGuardia, the legendary mayor of New York; Geraldine Ferraro, the first woman to be on a national ticket; Nancy Pelosi, the first female Speaker of the House; Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito; and Leon Panetta, our current Secretary of Defense.

This week the Senate adopted a resolution that I introduced commemorating this anniversary and the abiding relationship between our two countries. I am glad to be joined by my colleagues Senators Barrasso, Casey, Enzi, Gillibrand, Lugar, Schumer, and Shaheen as original cosponsors.

This 150th anniversary year closes during challenging times for a new generation of Italians. It is worth pausing here in Washington to salute our ally, from whom we have drawn so much talent and inspiration. We wish the citizens of the Italian Republic our best, with knowledge that during the past 150 years their Republic has endured many challenges and confidence that they will rise even higher

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