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Pelosi Remarks at NIAF 34th Anniversary Gala

Washington D.C. - Speaker Pelosi delivered the following remarks at the National Italian American Foundation's 34th Anniversary Gala. Below are the Speaker's remarks as prepared:

“Thank you, Joe [del Raso, President of NIAF] for your kind introduction and thank you to the entire leadership of NIAF, including Chairman Jerry Colangelo, Executive Director John Marino, and the Board of Directors. 

“It is an honor to stand here with a great former governor, an outstanding Secretary of Homeland Security, and one of tonight's honorees: Secretary Janet Napolitano.  She presented me with an award from this community in the past, and I am proud to extend my congratulations to her tonight.

“I would also like to congratulate this year's gala honorees: Lidia Bastianich, Massimo d'Amore, Carla Gugino, and Antonello Venditti.

“Upon first coming to Congress, it was my privilege to chair this dinner and to take a leading role in the effort to preserve and celebrate our shared cultural heritage.

“This organization chose me as an honoree and I was honored to serve on the board.  Now, I'm proud to bring greetings to all of you from the Congress of the United States - both as the first woman to serve as Speaker of the House and the first Italian American to hold this post.

“And as a tribute to NIAF and to the entire Italian-American community, my NIAF award is proudly on display in the Speaker's ceremonial office for everyone to see.

“When I was first elected Speaker, much was written about my roots in Abruzzo - about the strength, the passion, the energy that comes from my family's ties to the region.  This spirit drives my work every day.  This past is the reason I'm standing here today.  And this connection to the region is why I remain committed to helping the people of L'Aquila, the victims of this year's earthquake.

“Just last month, I had the opportunity to travel to Italy and saw firsthand the devastation and destruction in L'Aquila.  Yet we also saw the struggle to recover, the unyielding effort to rebuild, the indomitable spirit of the residents and the families.

“In the face of tragedy, we witnessed the courage - il coraggio - of the Italian people and the commitment of neighbor helping neighbor.  These scenes are an inspiration to all of us who cherish our ties with Italy and her people.  They are a tribute and a testament to the best of the human spirit.  So are the efforts of NIAF, leading the generous American response to the earthquake. 

“Because of the generosity of so many here tonight, the National Italian American Foundation has sent more than $600,000 to the Abruzzo rebuilding effort and provided almost $1 million in scholarships to bring students from the shuttered University of L'Aquila to the U.S. to study. 

“The United States and the world have made clear our support for the Italian people by offering humanitarian aid to those affected in Abruzzo. 

“May the friendship between the United States and Italy - rooted in our common history, sustained by our common values, and encouraged by our common faith in the future - continue to grow and flourish. 

“Viva Italia!  Viva America!”
 my NIAF award is proudly on display in the Speaker's ceremonial office for everyone to see.

“When I was first elected Speaker, much was written about my roots in Abruzzo - about the strength, the passion, the energy that comes from my family's ties to the region.  This spirit drives my work every day.  This past is the reason I'm standing here today.  And this connection to the region is why I remain committed to helping the people of L'Aquila, the victims of this year's earthquake.

“Just last month, I had the opportunity to travel to Italy and saw firsthand the devastation and destruction in L'Aquila.  Yet we also saw the struggle to recover, the unyielding effort to rebuild, the indomitable spirit of the residents and the families.

“In the face of tragedy, we witnessed the courage - il coraggio - of the Italian people and the commitment of neighbor helping neighbor.  These scenes are an inspiration to all of us who cherish our ties with Italy and her people.  They are a tribute and a testament to the best of the human spirit.  So are the efforts of NIAF, leading the generous American response to the earthquake. 

“Because of the generosity of so many here tonight, the National Italian American Foundation has sent more than $600,000 to the Abruzzo rebuilding effort and provided almost $1 million in scholarships to bring students from the shuttered University of L'Aquila to the U.S. to study. 

“The United States and the world have made clear our support for the Italian people by offering humanitarian aid to those affected in Abruzzo. 

“May the friendship between the United States and Italy - rooted in our common history, sustained by our common values, and encouraged by our common faith in the future - continue to grow and flourish. 

“Viva Italia!  Viva America!”