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Sons of Italy® Celebrates Centennial

Press Contact: Kylie Cafiero, (202) 547-2900

WASHINGTON, D.C. - June 23, 2005 The Order Sons of Italy in America® (OSIA), the oldest and largest national organization for men and women of Italian heritage in the United States officially marked its 100th anniversary on the same date and place of its founding June 22 in New York City's Little Italy.

The celebration began at the U.S. Custom House at Bowling Green and included a procession of active OSIA lodges and a centennial recommitment ceremony lead by Justice Frank J. Montemuro, of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and an OSIA past national president.

New York government leaders addressed the crowd, offering congratulations. Nassau County Executive Thomas R. Suozzi spoke on the steps of the U.S. Custom House and Tony Avella, Chairman of the Italian American Caucus of the New York City Council, helped raise the Italian and United States flags at Bowling Green.

Later that day, participants assembled at OSIA's founding site, 203 Grand Street and unveiled a permanent plaque commemorating the centennial anniversary.

OSIA was founded in 1905 by Vincenzo Sellaro, M.D. to unite Italians in America and assist them in work and education. One hundred years later, the organization counts 600,000 members and supporters and 700 chapters or lodges across the United States.

Since its founding it has established more than 2,800 lodges in 43 states and the District of Columbia. Since its founding, OSIA has donated more than $90 million to education, medical research and disaster relief.

"Today we can carry our heads high for we have lived the dream of Dr. Vincenzo Sellaro and will continue that dream with the work OSIA and sharing our Italian traditions, culture and language" said Joseph Sciame, OSIA National President.

OSIA is one of the oldest ethnic organizations in the country, established before the NAACP (1909), the Jewish Anti-Defamation League (1913) and the National Council of La Raza (1968).

Among the OSIA supporters were members and officers from the Grand Lodges of Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.