I have devoted a great deal of my life working to preserve our Italian heritage in the United States. Many of you have spent time and money doing the same but, in doing so, have we wasted our time, money, and energy? The odds are against us because we are not doing the things we should. How does an ethnic group insure its survival?
Italy today is not the same country your grandparents left, and it is true that many Italian-Americans are now highly acculturated and assimilated members of American society. We also agree that the language has been lost, and almost everything of Italy and things Italian. If there was the will, Italian-Americans could learn about Italy and her heritage. If we are able to get across to Italian-Americans that our Italian heritage is a treasure, we may have more success. We need to point out that Italian personal and family values and our way of interacting with relatives and friends is very enriching. By raising the consciousness of our intellectual heritage, they will come to value what Italy has contributed to the world!
I have always been amazed by the effect that Italy has had on the Italian-American tourist. It is a key to culture and identity, especially when contact is made with family and place. Italy is playing a formidable role in the world economy, politics, science, and arts in the present day.
I agree that our future depends upon social cohesion. We need to encourage more Italian-Americans, especially young people, to join Italian-American organizations. As members, they will have interaction with other individuals with shared values and personal identity. We must welcome the spouses who are not of Italian descent and encourage them to share both heritages with their children. Our Italian-American organizations must provide educational material for children of mixed antecedents. There must also be programs and events in our organizations for various socio-economic class positions.
Compete assimilation and the extinction of our Italian ethnicity has not yet taken place. We are in the twilight of ethnicity, and that is why it is so important to act today. We have some of the answers when we see the persistence of ethnicity in the United States. We notice a lingering attachment to Italy by third- and fourth-generation Italian-Americans. Why? One good reason is an authentic and deep understanding of things Italian, past and present.
We must raise the consciousness of Italian-Americans in light of being more educated. The affairs of a very modern Italy have appeal because Italy is contributing so much to modern life. Italian radio and television are now available in the United States, There are so many opportunities to keep in touch with Italy and with our families there.
— Prof./Cav. Philip J. DiNovo