On November 11 every year the United States observe Veterans Day, an official United States public holiday, that honors military veterans, those who served in the United States Armed Forces.
Several Italian Americans were part of the US Forces through the decades. In particular, after Pearl Harbor many Italian citizens living in the United States were referred to as "Enemy Aliens." Yet hundreds of thousands of them enlisted and served in the military during the war. Many of them asked to be sent to free their motherland, Italy. Several received decorations for bravery, fourteen of whom were awarded with the Medal of Honor.
Therefore, we are proud and honored to thank for his or her service any Italian American Veteran, through the new National Commander of the organization called "Italian American War Veterans", Anthony Ficarri.
Anthony, you are a veteran and before everything else We the Italians and me personally would like to thank you for your service. What's your story, where and when did you serve?
I served in the army from September 9, 1959 to 1965. I was based in Fort Lee Virginia as an undertaker it at Arlington Cemetery.
I was born in 1940 in a place called Norwood in McKees Rocks and Stowe Township, PA. My father Dominic had a poolroom where all the men in the neighborhood would play billiards, and play cards and of course talk about everything and most of the time solved all the problems of the world. It was World War 2, my father and two uncles were in the service. My Uncle Ross was a mechanic on the B29 over sea in China and Burma in the South Pacific. My father used to write letters telling me to take care of the boys at home and to watch the Pool Hall until he came home.
I would help my mother and grandparents pack and send goodies of all kind to all the men and women in the service. We would send Marsh Wheeling cigars, and of course all the homemade Italian cookies and salami. I don’t know how many times we walked to the post office and mailed hundreds of packages all over the world. I will never forget what that generation did for our country and the world. On Victory over Japan Day everyone was celebrating in the streets, I was there too, parading. What joy the war was over. When all the men came home, they all came to thank me and the family for sending the packages. So of course I still am trying helping the veterans, anyway I can.
The Italian American War Veterans was federally chartered 26 years ago, on November 20, 1981. What's the story of this wonderful organization?
In 1931 in the Little Italy of Hartford, Connecticut, a few Italian Americans met after the Armistice Day Parade, at the Casa Mania Hall on Market Street. That moment was when the first post of what is today the Italian American War Veterans of the United States was born. By the year 1932, the Department of Connecticut was formed.
The veterans decided to seek National recognition, and a National Charter, as other veterans organizations had: but they had to wait another four years and cut through the miles of Washington bureaucratic red tape, before even a bill to get a National Charter could be introduced.
In 1936, a bill was introduced with the backing of the Connecticut Department leadership. The fight was led by a good friend of the veterans, Congressman Koppelman, who hailed from Hartford. The bill for lack of support died in committee. During the years since the founding of our organization, the Department of Connecticut has grown to include numerous Posts and Ladies Auxiliaries.
Next came the state of Massachusetts, which began with the Benjamin Cardillo Post #1 in Lawrence, followed by the Michael Bucuzzo Post #2 of Haverhill. However, it was not until 1944 that the Department of Massachusetts was chartered, and by then many Posts had been formed.
In the year 1935 the Worcester, MA Post #3 was formed. They held a Dedication Ceremony and grand banquet at the old Bancroft Hotel, with the late Anthony Malozzi, an outstanding business man and a veteran serving as the Chairman. It is believed that the occasion marked America’s First Loyalty Day, and idea given birth by the Italian American War Veterans of Worchester, MA.
By the year 1936, the National Department of the organization was formed, and the town of Lawrence was dedicating a bridge in honor of its hero, Antonio Finochiaro, who was probably the youngest American soldier to die on the battlefields of France during World War 1.
The first National Convention of the Italian American War Veterans of World War 1 was held in Hartford, Connecticut in 1936. Daniel D’Alessandro of Hartford, was elected the first Commander. The first National Department was installed by Major Thomas Bannigan, Director of United States Veterans Hospitals in Newington, Connecticut on October 25, 1936.
The most active period in the history of our National Department was during the first four years, during the administrations of Daniel D'Alessandro, John DePastino, Raymond Sestini and Vincent B. Felitto: after Connecticut and Massachusetts, the Departments of New York, New Jersey, California, Ohio and Pennsylvania were formed. Due to the impending preparations being made by our government to enter the second World War, the momentum of our organization came to a slow down, and during World War 2, little progress was made.
The Rhode Island Department was born in 1950, Illinois and Florida formed theirs in 1955, while Arizona joined in 1978.
What about the purpose of ITAMVETS?
The purposes and objectives of this organization are more than one.
First of all, our mission is to aid and assist veterans and their families. Then, to assist public and private agencies and institutions endeavoring to promote the public welfare and to foster, encourage, and promote social, civic, historical, athletic, patriotic, musical, and scientific activities and affairs. We also uphold and maintain the honor and integrity of the United States; and also uphold and maintain true allegiance to the government of the United States and fidelity to the constitution.
We promote patriotism, advance the civic welfare, encourage benevolence, stimulate charity, champion the cause of education, and inspire friendship. We stimulate a feeling mutual devotion, helpfulness, and comradeship among all veterans, spouses and survivors.
How many members do you have? You are present in different parts of the country, right?
We have post in several states; Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, California, Arizona and Florida. There are 8000 members including life members.
I see there's also a Ladies Auxiliary affiliate organization …
The Ladies Auxiliary of the Italian American War Veterans of the United States had its origin in Waterbury, Connecticut as an Auxiliary unit of the Florio Post #4. Following heir installation on September 29, 1935, many additional Auxiliaries were formed in the Department of Connecticut.
The first National Convention of the Ladies Auxiliary was held at the time as the Parent organization’s 3rd National Convention on September 2, 3 and 4, 1938 in Waterbury Connecticut.
Today, Our ladies auxiliary president is Alice Crosetto and she is based out of Ohio. Also, each year we sponsor a boat ride for individuals with disabilities within the communities.
Is there something particular organized for 2017 Veterans Day, November 11?
On November 11, 2017 we will be part of the ceremony to celebrate 48 revolutionary soldiers with citation awards to their families.
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