WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) released the following statement in celebration of Italian-American Heritage and Culture Month.
“Throughout Italian-American Heritage and Culture Month, we celebrate the rich history and traditions of Italian Americans. In the 15th century, Italians navigated the Atlantic coast with Amerigo Vespucci, giving our continent and country its namesake. Over later centuries, Italian immigrants fled poverty, natural disaster and political instability in search of the American Dream. Despite systemic ethnic and religious discrimination, these first-generation immigrants and their descendants overcame persistent challenges with extraordinary achievements in American life. Italian Americans opened businesses, educated children, manufactured vital goods and ran for public office. Beyond this committed work ethic, Italian Americans pursued the ideals of friendship, family and community in their new homeland.
“Thousands of Italian immigrants arrived at Baltimore’s waterfront between the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Facing language barriers and economic hardship, they lived with Irish, German and Jewish immigrants in the city’s southeast neighborhoods. Baltimore’s Little Italy became a vibrant community filled with barber shops, grocers, retail stores, and cafes. One of its landmark restaurants, Sabbatino’s, has hosted every election day luncheon of my political career. Italian-American communities also blossomed in other areas like Lexington, Belair-Edison, and Lombard Street.
“From these communities, Italian Americans built careers that redefined Maryland and the United States. The son of an Italian immigrant, Thomas D’Alesandro Jr., served both in Congress and as Mayor of Baltimore for over a decade, presiding over the dedication of today’s Baltimore/Washington International Airport, as well as dozens of schools, recreation facilities, and cultural landmarks across the city. His daughter Nancy Pelosi would grow up to be the first female Speaker of the House of Representatives and third in line to the presidency.
“Raised in an Italian-speaking household, Frank Zappa left an indelible mark in music, fusing rock and jazz genres over a career spanning decades. Athletes like Vince and Joe Dundee and Harry Jeffra set records in boxing, with Jeffra ultimately entering the World Boxing Hall of Fame. Baltimore soccer player Santino Quaranta was once the youngest player in the history of Major League Soccer. And owner Steve Bisciotti has provided NFL fans with a first-class franchise.
“These few testimonies indicate the significance of Italian Americans from Maryland. Beyond our state, millions of other Italian Americans continue to enrich our nation in innumerable ways. Perhaps most admirably, Italian Americans have held and treasured their cultural roots while immersing themselves in U.S. popular culture. The example of Italian Americans illustrate how we can celebrate our distinct cultures all while working together as one, unified people.
“Let us renew our vision of a diverse and tolerant society as we observe Italian-American Heritage and Culture Month.”