Highlights Italian American Contributions to America, Honors Achievements and Community Service of Italian Americans in Bergen County
Above: Gottheimer in Hackensack today to recognize Italian American Heritage Month.
HACKENSACK, NJ— Today, October 11, 2022, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) celebrated Italian American Heritage Month and the many generations of Italian American history and contributions with a flag-raising ceremony. During the ceremony, local Italian Americans were honored for their outstanding achievements in business, education, and community service throughout Bergen County.
Gottheimer also announced that he is helping lead a bipartisan resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives (H. RES. 1426) urging the people of the United States to honor Italian American Heritage Month, in recognition of the contributions Italians and Italian Americans have made to this country and the world, including generals, admirals, doctors, philosophers, statesmen, musicians, athletes, Nobel laureates, and many others.
“Italian immigrants who journeyed to America, and the generations of their families since, are a perfect example of what makes the United States the greatest country in the world. Very few Italian immigrants lived luxurious lives, but they never complained in their pursuit of the American dream. And if you take one look around, it’s an understatement to say that Italian Americans have succeeded in achieving a better life and making both America and our great state even better places to live,” said U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) today. “That’s why I’m incredibly proud to be a cosponsor — just today — of bipartisan legislation in the House of Representatives urging the people of the United States to acknowledge Italian American Heritage Month. We must never forget the achievements made by Italian Americans across our nation and the positive impact they’ve had on Jersey.”
Gottheimer was joined today by New Jersey State Senator Joe Lagana, Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco, Bergen County Commissioners Chairwoman Tracy Zur, Tom Sullivan, Mary Amorosso, Germaine Ortiz, and Dr. Joan Voss, Bergen County Superintendent of Schools Louis DeLisio, Bergen County Sheriff Anthony Cureton, Bergen County Clerk John Hogan, Lodi Mayor Scott Luna, and Deputy Consul General of Italy in New York Irene Asquini.
Honorees included Felice Brescia and Pietro Petrillo from Societa Unita, Mauro and Sarah Salamone from Federazione Siciliana del New Jersey, Frank Del Vecchio from the Run for Hope Organization, the Anzevino, Dinallo, and Coppola families from the Gennaro Anzevino Scholarship Program, Nicola and Anna Aiello from the Osteria Pizzeria Ristorante, Antonio Parlato from La Cambusa, and Bergen County Superintendent of Schools Louis DeLisi.
Find the text of H. RES. 1426here, urging the people of the U.S. to observe the month of October 2022 as Italian and Italian-American Heritage Month.
Below: Gottheimer receiving an Italian American flag pin by Marco Consiglianio
Below: Gottheimer with the Deputy Consul General of Italy in New York Irene Asquini.
Below: Gottheimer in Hackensack today honoring local Italian American residents.
Gottheimer’s full remarks as prepared for delivery are below.
Good afternoon. I’m honored to join together with everyone here for Italian American Heritage Month, so that we can celebrate the many contributions made by Italian Americans here in North Jersey and across the country, and to recognize so many incredible North Jersey Italian Americans for their outstanding achievements in business, education, and service across Bergen County.
A critical part of North Jersey’s strength is our proud Italian American community, who have worked for generations, day in and day out, to make North Jersey an even better place to live, work, raise our families, and run a business.
So much of North Jersey’s culture has been shaped and influenced by our Italian American community. We’re very proud that — historically — Italian heritage has been the most common ancestry in Bergen County. And the strength of the community expands all across the state, with more than 1.2 million residents with Italian ancestry in Jersey.
From our local elected officials, hard working men and women of labor, doctors and nurses, to our community leaders and many business owners, it’s clear that the Italian American community continues to make an incredibly impressive mark on our great state – contributing to our fabric and success on every front.
And it hasn’t always been easy: Like all immigrants chasing the American dream, Italian Americans have worked tirelessly to get where they are today.
Many ancestors arrived at Ellis Island with nothing. And, like so many, they came to our great country seeking opportunity and they made incredible sacrifices so that their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren would have better lives.
They faced brutal anti-Italian prejudice. They were unfairly stereotyped as criminals and seen as inferior to other Europeans. They were blamed and charged for crimes they did not commit simply because of their heritage.
In the early 20th century, Italian Americans and Catholics were targeted by the Ku Klux Klan. Catholic churches and charities were vandalized and burned. In fact, in the 1890s alone, more than twenty Italians were lynched.
For decades, Italian Americans faced discrimination in housing and employment, police brutality, and hate. We’ve heard stories about families in Jersey not being able to live in certain neighborhoods because of their Italian last names.
Very few Italian immigrants lived luxurious lives, but they never complained in their pursuit of the American dream. And if you take one look around, it’s an understatement to say that Italian Americans have succeeded in achieving a better life and making both America and our great state even better places to live.
Italian Americans have left their mark on nearly every corner of North Jersey — from constructing buildings and churches, to arguing the law, to health care, to finance, to public service and the military. And, obviously, their influence on Jersey and global cuisine is second to none.
We’re also incredibly lucky to have so many Italian American organizations that better our community through their service including the National Italian American Foundation and our local UNICO chapters across North Jersey.
I think we can all agree that North Jersey and our nation would not be what it is today without the countless contributions of Italian Americans.
That’s why I’m incredibly proud to be a cosponsor — just today — of bipartisan legislation in the House of Representatives urging the people of the United States to acknowledge Italian American Heritage Month, recognizing the contributions Italians and Italian Americans have made to this country and the world, including generals, admirals, doctors, philosophers, statesmen, musicians, athletes, Nobel laureates, and so many more.
We must never forget the achievements made by Italian Americans across our nation and the positive impact they’ve had on Jersey.
Italian immigrants who journeyed to America, and the generations of their families since, are a perfect example of what makes the United States the greatest country in the world. We live in a nation of great diversity and immigrants — and that is our greatest strength. Generations of Italian, Irish, Jewish, Dutch immigrants settled here, joined later by a tapestry from all over the world, and they built our strong economy and nation.
We must continue to stand up to and stamp out hatred wherever it appears, whether it’s targeted at Italians, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Irish, or any background.
If we work together and remember that our greatest strength is diversity, I know that our best days will always be ahead of us.
God bless you and your families. God bless our troops, and may God continue to bless the United States of America.
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