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A MESSAGE FROM OSIA NATIONAL PRESIDENT ANTHONY J. BARATTA FOR COLUMBUS DAY 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 10, 2014 More than five hundred years ago, a strong man with an unmistakably Italian name took a world divided in half and made it whole.

When Cristoforo Colombo crossed a huge, dark ocean, he joined the Old World of Europe to the New World of what was to become America. His voyage changed the world forever. Little did he know that one day 29 U.S. cities, including the nation's capital, would carry his legacy in their names. Or, that 232 U.S. monuments would be erected in honor of his contributions to our great nation.

The accomplishments of this legendary navigator are significant but not surprising considering his origins. Columbus came from a land that has given western civilization its laws, architecture, music, and art, as well as a host of other geniuses besides this gifted sea captain from Genoa.

Italy also has given America many of its own children in the millions and millions of immigrants who, like Columbus, braved the unknown and crossed a dark ocean to come here.

Perhaps that is why we Italian Americans are so proud of Columbus and pleased that the country joins us every year in October to honor his memory. We also identify with Columbus because he was the first Italian to come to the New World. Many Italians followed him, including our own ancestors. They and their descendants have helped make the United States what it is today.

Some came with wealth and education, but most brought only a richness of values, a commitment to hard work, and the desire to make their children's lives better than their own.

Like Columbus, they had a dream. And, like Columbus, they made that dream come true despite formidable odds. So, let us celebrate Columbus Day, OSIA's special holiday, by wearing purple. Please join me in saluting Christopher Columbus, admiral of the ocean sea.

Viva Cristoforo Colombo! Viva l'America! Evviva I Figli d'Italia!

Established in 1905, the Order Sons of Italy in America (OSIA) has hundreds of thousands of family members located in all fifty states and the District of Columbia. OSIA works at the community, national and international levels to promote the heritage and culture of an estimated 26 million Italian Americans, the nation's fifth largest ethnic group, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. To learn more, visit www.osia.org