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Sons of Italy® Petitions for Basilone Stamp

Press Contact: Diane E. Crespy, (202) 547-8115 dcrespy@osia.org

For Immediate Release:

WASHINGTON, July 10, 2002 – The Order Sons of Italy in America® (OSIA) has collected 40,000 signatures supporting the creation of a U.S. postage stamp honoring Marine Gunnery Sgt. John Basilone, a World War II hero. The signatures were collected over the past 12 months.

Led by OSIA and U.S. Congressman Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), thousands of war veterans, Italian Americans and other citizens are lobbying the U.S. Postal Service for the stamp. A resolution calling for the commemorative stamp, introduced by Pascrell last year, currently has 39 co-sponsors in the House but has not yet been introduced in the Senate.

Basilone, of New Jersey, was the only enlisted Marine in World War II to earn both the U.S. Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross, the nation's two highest military honors. He died at Iwo Jima in 1945 at age 29.

During October's Italian American Heritage Month celebrations, OSIA and Pascrell plan to hold a press conference in Washington to present the U.S. Postal Service with one million signatures for the Basilone stamp.

OSIA encourages all Italian Americans to sign a petition and to write to their senators and representatives in support of the Basilone stamp resolution. For more information or to download a copy of the petition visit http://www.osia.org/public/legislative/legislativeissues.htm. For more information on Pascrell's resolution, H. Con. Res. 4, visit http://thomas.loc.gov.

To date, the Commission for Social Justice® (CSJ), the anti-defamation arm of OSIA, has identified 24 Italian American Medal of Honor recipients and further research is underway. (Current list attached.) For a copy of the CSJ Medal of Honor report, send a check in the amount of $3.00, payable to the Commission for Social Justice®, to: Medal of Honor Report, OSIA, 219 E Street NE, Washington, DC 20002.

Established in 1905, OSIA has more than 575,000 members and supporters and a network of 700 chapters coast to coast. It is the largest and oldest national organization for people of Italian descent in the country. OSIA works at the community, national and international levels to promote the heritage and culture of an estimated 24 million Italian Americans, the nation's fifth largest ethnic group, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. To learn more about OSIA, visit us on the Web at www.osia.org or contact us via e-mail at nationaloffice@osia.org.