Editor’s note: We’ve received an outpouring of inspirational posts from ISDA readers that were offered in response to our Italian American Heritage Month coverage. Here are just a handful of the moving sentiments and stories we’ve received.
Anna A. Muraglia: My father came through Ellis Island as a young boy from Italy in 1910. When World War 1 broke out, he enlisted in the U.S. Army, as an Italian Immigrant. For his service during the War, he was given the honor to become an American citizen. Later, he returned back to Italy for a visit, met my mom and got married in 1927, and both returned back to New York. It was very difficult for them raising 7 children, and I am the youngest. My father worked very hard to support us, and never never ever did he receive any handouts. We grew our own fruits and vegetables, and mom made bread and pasta every day. I travel back and forth quite often to Bari to visit all my cousins in Italy. We are all in contact with each other every day. I had my Mom’s and Dad’s names inscribed on “The Wall of Honor” at Ellis Island. I cry everytime I see the Statue of Liberty, and the hardships my parents suffered, but they made a better life for us, and for this sacrifice, us children are forever grateful.
Alan Fedele: I just saw the “home” in Italy in which my grandfather and grandmother lived and my uncle was born. I know it was a hundred years ago, but even then it couldn’t have been much more than a few steps above a cave. I love Italy today, but am so grateful that all four of my grandparents had the courage to leave and journey to an uncertain future in America.
Isabelle Richards: I visited my grandfather’s village in the mountains of Campania several years ago. The town is fairly isolated with few amenities even now. It occurred to me how difficult and arduous a journey it was just to get to Naples to get on a ship leaving for America. Thank you, Grandpa, for the opportunities I have because of your sacrifice!
Louis Rotando: My grandfather, Bernardo Rotando, who died before I was born, was a skilled furniture maker. He came here from a small town near Naples and brought a wooden box of carpenters tools and a suitcase. My cousin Bernard got the tools and I inherited the box, which is in my living room.
Rose Lewis: Nana was put on a ship at 13, by herself, traveling across an ocean to a new life. Life was not easy but through hard work and determination she carved a future for herself and for the family. We are very grateful for her courage and strength.
Dolly Pardi Spadaro: When I think of my grandmother coming to America alone leaving her family behind to marry my grandfather all I can think is they were made of stronger stuff. The best part was the love they had for each other.