Good evening. I'm sorry that I couldn't be there in person to receive this truly special award, but I wanted to send greetings to so many Sons of Italy friends and colleagues. I especially want to thank Vincent Sarno and Phil Piccigallo for the energy and enthusiasm they bring to everything they do, whether it's raising tens of millions of dollars for scholarships, or supporting charities that find cures for diseases.
Now, you may know that I am not of Italian descent. My ancestors came from places like Warwick and Quebec. But that's what makes this organization so great. You represent the 26 million Americans of Italian heritage -- the students, teachers, doctors, firefighters and so much more -- but your work and contributions don't know ethnicity, race, or gender. To you, everyone is a son of Italy.
For over 100 years, your members have given their time, money and energy to educational programs, disaster relief and medical research throughout the world. Your members literally met Italians at Ellis Island and told them where they could learn English and how they could become citizens. 100 years promoting civic engagement, social justice and philanthropy has strengthened the fabric of our society.
Italian-Americans have enriched and enlivened American culture in ways large and small. I am delighted to now be a part of this rich history and culture, and honored to receive a lifetime achievement award from a group that has achieved so much in its own right. Thank you again for all that you are doing to improve lives, build bridges of understanding and promote all that's great about Italy.