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Preserve your heritage, speaker urges at Warren's Italian fest kickoff

Published: Fri, August 11, 2017 @ 9:55 p.m.


Who better to kick off the Warren Italian-American Heritage Festival than a man born in Italy who has traveled there more than 250 times.

“To me, Italy is and will always be the most beautiful country in the world, and Italians are the most beautiful people,” Peter D’Attoma, who runs a Munroe Falls travel agency that makes trips to Italy, told a filled banquet room Friday morning at the Hippodrome downtown. The breakfast opened the 33rd annual festival in downtown Warren.

D’Attoma, who came to the United States with his family when he was 9 in 1956, urged those present to “realize the importance of preserving our heritage and our traditions because they form an essential part of who we are.”

Italian immigrants “have long played a vital role in shaping of America,” he said. “It’s a country that was built by the hands. sweat, blood and tears of immigrants, especially Italians.”

He said Italians hid their ethnicity in the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s “for fear of discrimination. We battled stigmas and prejudice. Immigrants in the 1930s and ’40s often changed their names ... to avoid the anti-Italianism that was pervasive in those days.”

Read more about his speech and the festival in Saturday's Vindicator or on Vindy.com.

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