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October 14, 2011     Post-Gazette
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October 14, 2011

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POST-GAZETTE, OCTOBER 14, 2011 Page 11 U.S. TRIBUTES TO CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS Boston has the oldest statue of Columbus. It was raised in 1849 (circa) and believed to be sponsored by Marquis Niccolo Reggio, an Italian businessman and consul in Boston for the Papal States, Spain, and the kingdoms of Sardinia and of the Two Sicflies. It stands in Louisburg Square. The largest and most imposing monu- ment to Columbus stands in New York City's Columbus Circle at 59 th Street. The 14-foot marble statue of Columbus rests on a granite colunm 61 feet high {total: 75 feet). It was erected in 1892 from contri- butions by Italian Americans across the country, led by the Italian American news- paper,//Progresso. ITALIAN AMERICAN WOMEN Major Marie Rossi was one of the first US women soldiers to partici- pate in an air assault into enemy territory, she was killed when the Chinook helicopter that she was pilot- ing crashed on Major March 1, 1991. Marie Rosai A native of Oradell, New Jer- sey, she served as a pilot with the 101st Airborne Division and led a squadron of Chinook helicopters 50 miles inside Iraq during operation Desert Storm on Febru- ary 24, 1991, ferrying fuel and ammuni- Uon' during the very first hours of the ground assault. She was buried in Sec- tion 8 of Arlington National Cemetery on March i i, 1991. Truly this young woman was a heroine! The first American singer to perform at New York's famed Metropolitan Opera House without European training was Rosa PonselIe. Born Rosa Ponzfllo in Con- necUcut, "the Cinderella of Opera," made her debut at the Met in 1918 when she was 21 in Verdi's La Forza del Destino, opposite Enrico Caruso after being dis- covered in vaudeville. She played over 20 roles in her 19-year career at the Met, retiring in 1936 to marry and teach. She died in 1981 at age 83. Celeste Lizio, who came to Amer- ica during the 1930s and opened a restaurant with her husband in Chicago, founded Mama Celeste's P/zza, a line of fro- zen Italian foods that she later sold to Quaker Oats. ITALIAN AMERICANS IN SCIENCE AND MEDICINE In 1849, twenty-seven years before Alexander Graham Bell announced that he invented the telephone, Antonio Meueci invented the 'teletrofono" in his native Florence and emigrated to America the following year. Meucci attempted to secure a U.S. patent, but could not afford the patent fees. He died in 1899, never rec- ognized for his invention. Albert Sacco, Jr., the chairman of the chemistry department at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts, flew to the moon in 1995 on the Shuttle Columbia. Giuseppe Attardi, M.D., a ground- breaking geneticist, died at age 84. His research into DNA has shown how mutaUons can lead to disease but also to longer life. Dr. Attardi was born in Sicily in 1923, immigrated to the U.S. in 1959 and became a citizen in 1974. Vincent R. Ciccone secured over 20 patents beginning in the 1930s for techniques that contributed to the mass production of penicillin and revolu- tionized the way medicine is combined with hard candy. His method is widely used in the production of cough drops. Louis Bonaldi, M.D., a plastic and reconstructive surgeon in Reno, NV, founded New Beginnings, a program that offered, one free reconstructive surgery each month to a person in great financial need whose surgery goes beyond pure cosmetics. Launched some years ago, 00talian 00merican 00acts 00lta/ian Heritage AConth by Ray Barron Dr. Bonaldi's patients have included children with ear deformities and adults with facial scars. ITALIAN AMERICAN BUSINESS LEADERS AND ENTREPRENEURS When Prohibition was lifted in 1933, brothers Ernest and Julio Gallo took their entire savings of about 85,000, and began producing wine from the vineyards their father had owned in California. They made a profit of $34,000 in their first year of business and helped launch California's wine industry. Today more wineries in the U.S. are owned by Italian Americans. Mr. Coffee, the best-selling coffee maker in the world, was invented by Vince Marotta, who also invented the paper coffee filter and developed a better way to extract oil from coffee beans. Since 1972, more than 50 million Mr. Coffees have been sold. An estimated i0 billion Mr. Coffee paper filters are sold annually. Robert Mondavi, the Italian American vintner who put California wines on a par with European wines, died at age 94. He introduced Napa Valley wineries to European wine-making techniques when he founded his namesake winery in 1966 at age 52 and built his business to a $500 million-a-year operation. Constellation Brands, the world's largest wine company, bought it for $1.35 billion in 2004. Mondavi was born in Minnesota to penni- less Italian immigrants. Mr. Peanut and the Planters Peanut Company were created by Italian immi- grants Amedeo Obici and Mario Peruzzi in 1887 in Pennsylvania. By 1930, the partners had four huge factories, and raked in over $12 million annually. ITALIAN AMERICANS IN U.S. MILITARY HISTORY. Bancroft Gerardi was the first Italian American to attain the rank of U.S. Admi- ral. He and Louis Sa.,'toxi were U.S. naval commodores during the U.S.-Mexican War. The first Italian American to receive the U.S. Congressional Medal of Honor was Luigi Palma di Cesnola, a Union general in the Civil War, who later became the first director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Four-star Gen- eral Anthony Zinni, a veteran Marine and the son of Italian im- migrants, com- manded Opera- tion Desert Fox,. the U.S. bombing of Iraq in' 1998. It was the largest General U.S. offensive Anthony Zinni since the Gulf War in 1991. A highly decorated officer, he was Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Central Command. ITALIAN AMERICANS IN POLITICS Rudolph William Louis "Rudy" Giuliani -- served two terms as Mayor of New York City, and was credited with ini- tiating improvements in the city's quality of life with a reduction in crime. He ran for the Rufly Giulimi United States Senate in 2000 but withdrew due to being diag- nosed with prostate cancer and to revela- tions about his personal life. Giuliani gained international attention during and after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. In 2001, Time Magazine named him "Person of the Year" and he received an honorary knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II in 2002. Giuliani ran for the Republican Party nomination in the 2008 United States presidential election. Neapolitan immigrant Attilio Piceirilli and his five brothers carved the statue of Lincoln for The Lincoln Memorial, which they began in 1911 and completed in 1922. It is 19 feet high and made of 28 blocks of marble, carefully fitted together. A concrete symbol of American democ- racy, the Capitol Building bears the imprint of Italian talent. Between 1855 and 1870, the Italian artist, Constantino Brumidi decorated its interior dome, corridors, and the President's Room where Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. The words in the Declaration of Inde- pendence, "All men are created equal" was suggested to Thomas Jefferson by Pilippo Muzei, a Tuscan physician, business- man, pamphleteer and Jefferson's friend and neighbor. Mazzei's original words were "All men are by nature equally free and independent." Two of the original signers of the Declaration of Independence were of Italian origin: William Paca and Caesar Rodney. Paca was one of the first sena- tors in the Maryland state legislature, gov- ernor of Maryland (1782 to 1785) and a major general during the Revolutionary War. Rodney of Delaware, descended from the Adelmare family in Treviso, is most remembered for his courageous ride to Philadelphia in July 1776. Though sick with cancer, he rode through thunder and rain to arrive just in time to vote for independence. Onorlo Rzoliai was the first Italian American ever to hold public office. He was the U.S. Armourer and Keeper of Stores in Maryland between 1732 and 1747, a duty which essentially put him in charge of defense for the Colony of Maryland. In 1837, John Phinizy, the son of an Italian immigrant named Ferdinando 'inizzi, became the first Italian American ayor of an American city: Augusta, Geor- gia. In 1880, Anthony Ghio was elected nayor of Texarkana, rexas, where he later opened the town's first opera house. The first woman to run for national office vas Geraldine Ferraro, who was the Democratic candidate for vice president in 1984. Mrs. Ferraro also served in Congress, representing a district in Queens, New York, from 1979 to 1985. Charles Joseph Bonaparte founded the Federal Bu- reau of Investiga- t_ion in 1908, built the U.S. Navy into one of the stron- gest in the world and was the first Italian American appointed to a cabinet position, serving as Secre- tary of the Navy Charles Joseph and later as U.S. Bonaparte Attorney General during Theodore Roosevelt's administration. ITALIAN AMERICANS IN SPORTS Rocky Marciano is the only undefeated heavyweight boxing champion in history. He retired in 1956 with a 49-0 record that counted 43 knockouts. Marciano won the Heavyweight Crown in Philadelphia in 1952 and defended his title six times before retiring. He was elected to the Box- ing Hall of Fame in 1959 and died in a plane crash ten years later, the day before his 46th birthday. His real name was Rocco Marchegiano. Boxing manager Angelo Dundee, born AngeIo Merena, Jr., in 1921, trained and managed fifteen world champions, includ- ing Muhammad All, Sugar Ray Leonard, and Jimmy Ellis. In hockey, brothers Phil and Tony gsposito have set records. Phil once scored 76 netted goals in a single season. He played for the Chicago Blackhawks, Boston Brulns and New York Rangers for 18 years before retiring in 1981 and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1984. A five-time winner of the Art Ross trophy as the NHL's top scorer, Esposito was general manager of the New York Rangers. Tony became one of the greatest goaltenders of all time. A 15-year veteran with the Chicago Blackhawks, he was nicknamed "Tony O" for his 76 shut- outs. Voted National League All-Star a record ten times, Esposito saw his num- ber 35 retired by the Blackhawks in 1988. Marto Andretti's Italian American drawl and legendary coolness behind the wheel hid a fierce competitive spirit. It is possible that no other driver in the history of motor racing has had as much suc- dhh-io Andretti cess while simulta- neously having to put out as much effort for that success. AndretU's physical and mental makeup were perfectly suited, as perhaps no other driver's has been, to the demands of racing. Through all those years and all those trials Andretti was never petu- lant, juvenile or devious, which is a great deal more than can be said for a lot of other top rank drivers in the Grand Prix pres- sure cooker. Sure he could lose his temper on occasion. Making your living at 170mph will cause that. But his behavior was invariably a credit to his profession. Lawrence Peter "Yogi" Berra, born May 12, 1925 in a primarily Italian neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri called "The Hill," Berra was the son of Pietro and Paulina Berra, immi- grants from Italy. A former Major League Baseball player and "Yogi" Berra manager. He played almost his entire career for the New York Yankees and was elected to the baseball Hall of Fame in 1972. Argu- ably the most beloved baseball player since Babe Ruth, Berra was one of only four players to be named the Most Valuable Player of the American League three times, and one of only six managers to lead both American and National League teams to the World Series. JerryChmgelo, an astute judge ofbas- ketbail talent, has guided the Phoenix Suns to prominence in the NBA for more than three decades. He became their first gen- eral manager in 1968 at age 28, making him the youngest general manager in sports. A native of Chicago Heights, Illinois, he also helped form Phoenix's major league baseball team, the Diamondbacks. ITALIAN AMERICANS IN ENTERTAINMENT Sylvester Stallone with a pregnant wife and only $100 in the bank, wrote the script for Rocky in three and a half days. The screen- play found a buyer, Sylvester Stallone but Stallone, age 30, refused to sign the contract unless he was allowed to play the lead. The film received an Oscar for Best Picture in 1976. Stallone is one of the highest-paid actors of all time. Joseph Barbera, the man behind Tom and Jerry, Yogi Bear, The Flintstones, The Jetsons, The Smurfs and Scooby-Doo, director, producer, and co-founder of Hanna-Barbera Film Studios. A banker and free-lance cartoonist, he met Bill Hanna at MGM in 1937. The team created Puss Gets the Boots, which was nominated for an Oscar and inspired the Tom and Jerry cartoons. In 1957 they started their own animation studio and went on to win seven Oscars during their long collaboration. ITALIAN AMERICANS BEYOND THE CALL Rev. Al Mascherino renovated a hun- dred-year-old chapel near Shanksville, PA, adding a 40-foot bell tower to commemo- rate the sacrifice of the 40 passengers and crew of Flight 93 that crashed near the chapel on September 11,2001. Father Mascherino got help from local contractors after buying and initiating work on the building himself. Now a non-denomina- tional memorial chapel, it is called appro- priately. "Thunder on the Mountain." (Taken in part from NIAF & The Sons of ltaly Foundation)