The Italian Immigrant
This day is set aside for the
parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and beyond – every Italian who journeyed to America
from Italy, regardless of the route. It’s
to honor those who sought to make a better life for themselves and their families, to remember them for the sacrifices they
endured, and to thank them for the opportunities they provided us and for their contributions to America.
(In Alphabetical Order)
Pietro Bandini (1852-1917)
A Jesuit priest, Father Bandini
first came to America in the late 1880s as a missionary for Native Americans in the northwest. He returned to Italy
for a short time, then traveled back to America to assist Italian immigrants
in New York City. His previous travels through Arkansas brought him back when he learned of a group of immigrants
who needed help in settling there. Recalling an area in the Ozarks similar to Italy’s
environment, he assisted in purchasing the land and established Tontitown in 1898, named after Enrico de Tonti, the Father
of Arkansas. By 1905, Tontitown was considered the "perfect example of colonization," and in 1909 the town was incorporated
with Father Bandini as its first mayor. Through Father Bandini’s efforts and guidance, the Italian immigrants of Tontitown
had cultivated the land into vineyards, producing grapes for wine and the Concord grape for commercial use.
Brumidi [or Costantino] (1805-1880)
Known as the "Michelangelo of
the Capitol," Brumidi spent 25 years painting the walls and ceilings of the United States Capitol.
The rotunda of the Capitol, with the Apotheosis of Washington, and the frescoes and murals on the first floor of the Senate
wing – the Brumidi Corridors – are among the most elaborately decorated public places in America. In January 2007, U.S. Senate Bill S-254 was proposed to award posthumously
a Congressional Gold Medal to Constantino Brumidi, in recognition of his contributions to America. The Bill is currently up for vote in the House.
Francis Cabrini (1850-1917)
With a desire to become a missionary
at a young age, Francis Cabrini devoted her life to helping others. After taking vows and adding
Xavier to her name in honor of Jesuit Francis Xavier, Mother Cabrini founded the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of
Jesus. At the Bishop’s request – and upon the advice of Pope Leo XIII – in 1889 she came to America to work with the Italian immigrants. Once in New York, she quickly established an orphanage, convent, and school to teach catechism.
Over the years she traveled back and forth to Italy
and established 67 missions, orphanages, hospitals, and school – one for each year of her life. She became an American
citizen in 1909. In 1946, she was canonized a saint. Her body is enshrined under glass at the mother Cabrini High School and Shrine. She was the
first American citizen to become a saint.
Recognized by many as the world’s
most acclaimed tenor, Caruso’s recordings launched the phonograph industry in the early 1900s
and prompted other singers to start recording their music for sale. His vocal range and versatility is still unmatched and
it’s noted that his recordings have been researched and studied more than any other singer. His recording of "No Pagliaccio
non son" was the first record to sell one million copies, and more than a century later, his records continue to sell. Caruso
first sang at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York in
1903 and continued his association with the Met for 18 seasons. He was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1987
for his significant artistic contributions to the recording industry.
Columbus [Cristoforo Colombo] (1451-1506)
Armchair philosophers and biases
aside, Columbus was a man who believed.
He studied, sought the answers, heeded advice, and secured funding. Many people may have influenced and supported Columbus, but it was his belief in his capabilities as a navigator that
led him to sail an uncharted sea and find a new land. Celebrate Columbus Day.
Recognized as one of the twentieth
century’s great scientists, and with a name that every physics student is aware of, Fermi
received the Noble Prize in physics in 1938 for discovering new radioactive elements and the nuclear reactions caused by slow
neutrons. Fermi’s work heralded the age of nuclear power that now provides energy, and used in medical treatments, and
agricultural and industrial applications.
a natural inclination toward physics, at 27, Fermi became a professor in the field. His applications in experimentation and
theoretical physics led him to become the first to split an atom. Arriving in America
after he received the Nobel Prize, he continued his research in nuclear power generation, first at Columbia
University in New York then at the University of Chicago. He became a professor
at the Institute of Nuclear Studies,
now named the Enrico Fermi Institute, and the element fermium is named after him. Fermi was involved in The Manhattan Project
during World War II.
1956, President Eisenhower established the Enrico Fermi Presidential Award in honor of the Nobel Prize recipient. The National
Accelerator Laboratory, established by the U. S. Atomic Energy Commission in 1967 was renamed Fermilab in 1974. In 1976, Fermi
was inducted to the Inventors Hall of Fame, and in 2001, a United States
postage stamp was issued to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Fermi’s birth.
Pietro Giannini (1870-1949)
At 14, Giannini left school to
help his stepfather run a produce business. Five years later, he was a partner, and at 31, he sold
the business to retire. Three years later, he opened the Bank of Italy – based on the concept of lending money to the
working class – offering mortgage, automobile, and installment loans. After the San
Francisco earthquake of 1906, he salvaged the bank’s resources and loaned money to help rebuild
the city. Giannini provided financial backing to start United Artists and the California
wine industry, and to keep Walt Disney’s Snow White from going over budget.
1928, he purchased Bank of America with plans for a nationwide banking system, and when he died in 1949, Bank of America was
the largest bank in the United States.
A. P. Giannini revolutionized banking, establishing the foundation for the modern banking system.
His early experiments with Hertzian
waves led him to conducting experiments at the family villa in Italy and later in England
where he would file a patent for wireless telegraphy. Although Marconi shares the 1909 Nobel Prize in physics, he was acknowledged
for his ability to put together a "practical, usable system" for wireless transmission of radio waves over long distances.
Marconi did not immigrate to America, but in 1903, he established a wireless
station in South Wellfleet, Massachusetts, allowing President Theodore Roosevelt to send
a Morse code message to King Edward VII of England – the first transatlantic
message from a U. S. President to a European
ruler. Marconi’s wireless communications (known as Marconigrams) were essential for transmitting messages to and from
ships, and his application expanded from cruise ships to battleships when World War I began.
Befriended by Benjamin Franklin
and Thomas Jefferson, in 1773, Mazzei – a physician, horticulturist, and merchant in Italy – came to America to establish
vineyards in Virginia. Through his friendships with Franklin
and Jefferson, Mazzei became acquainted with George Washington, James Monroe, Thomas Paine, Patrick Henry, and John Adams,
and Mazzei also became a supporter of American freedom. His collaboration with Jefferson
led to the inclusion of "all men are created equal" into the Declaration of Independence, a paraphrase of Mazzei’s "All
men are by nature equally free and independent."
1778, Mazzei returned to Italy to help raise money and gain information
to assist Virginia during the Revolutionary War. He went
back to America after the war, then in 1785 returned to Europe.
In 1788, he published The History and Politics of the United States of America, which was widely accepted as the source
of accurate information about the Revolution.
Scientist, mechanical engineer,
stage technician, business-owner, and the original holder of the patent for the forerunner of today’s
telephone, in 2001 Meucci was recognized by the U. S. House of Representatives declaring that "… his work in the invention
of the telephone should be acknowledged." Meucci traveled from Italy to
Cuba, where he began working on his teletrofono
in 1849. A year later, he was in America, supporting his experimentation
with the teletrofono by establishing various business, among them the first paraffin candle factory in the world and
the first lager beer factory in America.
He received patents for "Effervescent Drinks" and "Sauce for Food" and he developed the precursor to coffee filters and the
process for making postage stamps. Meucci befriended Garibaldi, who stayed with him in Staten Island, while Garibaldi was
in exile from Italy and before he returned to Italy in 1854 to fight for unification.
medical doctor with experience in psychiatry, philosophy, and anthropology, Dr. Montessori combined her fields to focus on
educating children. She developed an educational method based on her belief in treating a child with respect and assisting,
rather than teaching, which allows the child to develop fully in all aspects of his or her life. This year marks the 100th
anniversary of the Montessori Method.
Considered by many to be the "Father of Architecture," Palladio’s style – arches, columns, pediments, porticos, symmetry,
and the Palladian window – traveled throughout Europe, to England, and then to America. In 1570 he wrote I Quattro
Libri dell' Architettura, The Four Books on Architecture, the most famous and influential books on architecture
of all time, and still in print. Thomas Jefferson cited the books as "the Bible" on architecture and designed Monticello and other buildings using Palladio’s concepts.
Arriving in America in 1914 from
a small town outside of Venice, within several years Pasin was able to save enough money to start
a small business crafting wood wagons. By 1923, he hired his first employees and named his company Liberty Coaster Company,
after the Statue of Liberty. Inspired by the automobile industry, he started using metal stamping to make wagons, and named
the first steel wagon Radio Flyer in honor of Marconi’s invention of the radio and Pasin’s interest in flight.
Throughout the Depression, his company was one of the few that ran at full capacity and his exhibit at the 1933 Chicago World’s
Fair brought world fame to the red wagon. As one of the oldest toy companies in America,
it is still family owned and it’s the only company that makes steel, wood, and plastic wagons. Pasin was inducted into
the Toy Industry Hall of Fame in 2003.
More than fifty years after his
final performance, Toscanini – known for his photographic memory, strong beliefs in music
interpretation, and demand for perfection – reigns supreme as one of the world’s greatest conductors. At 13 he
played cello in an orchestra, and at 19 his last-minute substitution as conductor of Verdi’s Aida in Rio de Janeiro set the course for his career. In 1898, he became director
of La Scala and reorganized the performances to maximize the integrity of the music. From 1908 to 1915, he conducted at the
Metropolitan Opera House. Returning to Italy during World War I, in 1921,
he assembled a new La Scala orchestra and toured for eight months – three months in the United States.
1926 he began conducting with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and led a European tour of the company in 1930. Seven years
later, with plans to make radio educational and cultural, the NBC Symphony Orchestra was created for Toscanini. Many credit
him today for bringing classical music to the masses. He returned to Italy
to reopen the demolished La Scala in 1946, but he continued to conduct the NBC orchestra until his retirement in 1954 at the
age of 87.
has appeared on the cover of TIME magazine twice and in 1987 he was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award for
his significant contributions to the recording industry. A United States
postage stamp was issued in his honor in 1989. This year, the 50th anniversary of his passing, in honor of his
musical career and his stand against fascism, Italy
is hosting numerous events in tribute to il Maestro.
Traveling twice to explore the
coastline of South America, Vespucci was the first to realize that the New
World was a new continent. Letters he wrote describing his journey were widely distributed in Europe, leading
German cartographer Martin Waldseemuller to identify the land as America.