October 1st marked the start of Italian-American Heritage Month, coinciding with the 20th Anniversary of the Italian Heritage Month Committee.
Last week a festive program was held in the House Chamber of the State House, followed by a reception in Memorial Hall. Coro Dante, New England’s all-Italian repertoire chorus of the Dante Alighieri Society which was celebrating its own twelfth anniversary, performed the U.S. and Italian national anthems.
Following opening remarks from House Speaker Robert DeLeo, the President of the Italian-American Heritage Month Committee Richard Vita read the proclamation issued by Governor Baker. The proclamation honored the legacy of Christopher Columbus, actress Anna Magnani, inventor Antonio Meucci, Leo Liotta and Yolanda Cellucci. Liotta, better known as boxer Tony Demarco, received a standing ovation, along with Cellucci who became a trailblazer in the world of fashion with her Waltham-based bridal shop opening in 1967.
Federica Serini, Consul General of Italy, reflected on the value gained from engaging with the Italian-American community. Identifying common traits such as warmth, resilience and industriousness, she observed how important family factors into the cultural identity and experience of Italian-Americans. Sereni concluded by sharing excerpts from President John F Kennedy’s 1961 speech celebrating the centennial of Italian reunification.
“In spite of leaving everything behind and having to adapt to a new reality, these Italian immigrants would go on to not only survive but thrive and help to make the United States what it is today.” – Federica Sereni, Consul General Of Italy
Massachusetts OSIA State Vice President Denise Furnari spoke about the role of the Order of the Sons and Daughters of Italy in promoting, protecting and preserving Italian heritage. Describing the founding vision of Vincenzo Sellaro, Furnari also mentioned Lodge #2996, based in the North End, which celebrated its founding last October. President of the Italian American Alliance James DiStefano reported an increase in membership from 400 in 2018 to over 1,100 as of this year, with an additional 22,000 members in affiliated associations.
Scholarships were given to five students from throughout the Commonwealth: Daniel Di Chiara from Revere High School, Zachary Dieciudue from Everett High School, Alec Ross from Wakefield High School, Benjamin Lee from Boston Latin, and Ana Faiole. Scholarships were supported by the Italian Consulate, East Boston Savings Bank, Club Italia, CASIT, and Donne 2000.
Awards were presented to Italian-American Heritage Month Committee Co-Founders Judge Joseph V. Ferrino Sr. (Retired), Judge Peter W. Agnes Jr., and Comm. Lino Rullo for their role in forming the Committee and collective body of work. Massachusetts State Senator Sal DiDomenico received a Distinguished Public Service Award.
“We have to educate the next generation. To teach our children about our culture. Don’t let other people express what we are. It’s up to us to make this a way of life all throughout the year. -Massachusetts State Senator Sal DiDomenico
Additional events for Italian Heritage Month have been planned. Click here to learn more!