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Sons of Italy Foundation® Joins in Honoring President Bush at the White House

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

WASHINGTON, D.C. - June 14, 2006 - The Sons of Italy Foundation® (SIF), the nation's largest Italian American philanthropic organization, participated in a ceremony that presented President George W. Bush with a gold medal from the American Society of the Italian Legions of Merit on June 2, Italian Independence Day, in the Oval Office of the White House.

SIF President Robert A. Messa along with other leaders in the Italian American community presented the medal that commemorated the 40th anniversary of the national society whose members have received a chivalric Order (Cavaliere della Repubblica) from Italy for personal achievement or special service to Italy.

An estimated 700 Americans have received the honor to date, including SIF President Robert A. Messa, who represented the Sons of Italy Foundation® at the ceremony.

"It was an honor for the Sons of Italy Foundation® to be part of this celebration," says Messa. "President Bush mentioned at the ceremony that he had been to Italy more than any other U.S. president. That indeed is a distinction to be proud of."

The Sons of Italy Foundation® (SIF) is the philanthropic arm of the Order Sons of Italy in America® (OSIA), the nation's oldest and largest organization for people of Italian heritage. Over the years, the SIF has contributed more than $93 million to medical research, disaster relief, and scholarships.

In addition to SIF President Messa, the other leaders present at the ceremony were Aileen Riotto Sirey, founder and chair of the National Organization of Italian American Women; Lawrence Auriana, chair of the Columbus Citizens Foundation; Lucio Caputo, director of the Italian Food and Wine Institute of New York; Dominic Frinzi, president of the National Italian American Bar Association and Dominic R. Massaro, a justice of the New York Supreme Court and the society's president along with Stephen Acunto and Rosemarie Gallina-Santangelo, the society's publisher and chief of protocol respectively.

CAPTION: Standing with the President are, from left: SIF President Robert Messa; and Stephen Acunto; Aileen Riotto Sirey; Dominic Massaro; Lucio Caputo; Rosemarie Gallina-Santangelo; Dominic Frinzi and Larry Auriana. [Photo: Kimberlee Hewitt.]