Joseph Sciame reelected President of Major Italian American Organizations

Joseph Sciame, a National Past President of the Order Sons of Italy in America and currently the vice-president for external affairs at St. John’s University in New York, was reelected Chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major Italian American Organizations for another two year term. The election took place on October 13, 2012, at the annual Conference meeting held at the Washington Hilton, site of the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) annual meeting and gala weekend.

Joseph Sciame

Joseph Sciame

PMIAO (our abbreviation), was founded over 40 years ago “…to enroll as members in a spiritual bond all national, regional, statewide and special Italian American organizations,” and to provide “a clearinghouse for centralized thinking and unified directed guidance for Italian American activities at their broadest national levels and interests.”

Sciame, who was President of the Order of Sons of Italy in America in 2003-2005, has also served as President of the American Society of the Italian Legions of Merit, an organiation of Italian Americans, and Americans, who have been honored by the Republic of Italy. The Republic of Italy honored Sciame with the rank of Cavaliere and then Ufficiale in the Order of Merit, and he was invested as Commendatore by Prince Vittorio Emmanuele of the House of Savoy in the Order of Merit.

Sciame is also the current president/chair of the Italian Heritage and Culture Committee-NY, Inc., an organization of Italian Americans whose mission is to promote an annual theme for the Italian American Heritage Month celebrations, and to produce educational materials. This year’s theme is “The Legacy of Italians in Americas – a Tribute to Amerigo Vespucci: 1454-1512.” Sciame has been heading the IHCC-NY, Inc. since 2007.

Joseph Sciame has devoted much of his life to Italian American causes. He has spoken in no uncertain terms about the need to have Italian Americans speak with one voice when the need arises. What he said about the “Jersey Shore” MTV controversy and the reaction by Italian-American organizations, still rings true today:


We have never, ever been good at “advocacy” let alone “lobbying” and other than the anti-defamation initiatives we have all activated over the years, i.e., the OSIA Commission for Social Justice, the UNICO effort this time which received wide publicity and the NIAF’s ongoing favorable relationship with “The Hill,” what else is it that we can do? Is there no national spokesperson who can rally us together? Is there no US Senator/Congressperson, Governor or other statesman who can say something?

It does seem to me, and I have shared this with many folks INFORMALLY in the past, we need in 2010 (as we have not done heretofore) a major meeting of the minds…ALL Italian-American organizations, with some top level speaker who can get us ALL on the same plate.

I f anyone can get “us ALL on the same plate,” we believe that Joseph Sciame can accomplish it!


Pictured above, the members of the Conference of Presidents of Major Italian American Organizations at their annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

Italy Donates Bust of Amerigo Vespucci to the Organization of American States

On the occasion of the Columbus Day celebrations, Sebastiano Fulci, the Permanent Observer of Italy to the Organization of American States (OAS), joined by Andrea Claudio Galluzzo, President of the Association Fiorentini nel Mondo, Joseph Sciame Chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major Italian American Organizations, John Viola Chief Operating Officer of The National Italian American Foundation, Justice Dominic Massaro of the Supreme Court of New York, donated on behalf of Italy, a bust of the Florentine navigator and cartographer, Amerigo Vespucci, a work by the American artist Greg Wyatt.

Unveiling of Amerigo Vespucci at OAS

During the ceremony, held in Washington, D.C. on October 11, 2012, Fulci, said that the donation was an “homage to the five hundredth anniversary of the death of the Italian navigator” who gave his name to the continent, and is part of the celebration of “the discovery of America,” which the OAS commemorated on October 12.

Present at the ceremony, held in the Hall of the Americas at OAS headquarters, were also the Secretary General of the OAS, José Miguel Insulza, the Assistant Secretary General, Ambassador Albert Ramdin, and the Chair of the Permanent Council and Permanent Representative of Mexico, Ambassador Joel Antonio Hernández García, among others.

Amerigo Vespucci was born and raised in Florence, acquired the favor and protection of Lorenzo de Medici. In 1499 he joined Alonso de Ojeda, who had received from Spain the task of exploring, the south coast of the “region” discovered by Columbus.

Navigator of the seas and profound scholar, during his travels he explored much of the eastern coast of South America. He was among the first supporters of the idea that Christopher Columbus had discovered a new continent and not a western route to reach the Far East by sea.

In his letters and diaries Amerigo Vespucci described the mainland as a “New World” and was the first to realize the presence of a new continent. In fact in his letters, addressed to Lorenzo de ‘Medici, Vespucci describes in detail the new territories, the peoples and animals understanding that this land couldn’t be the Asian continent.

It was the rapid spread of the letters circulated under his name that suggested the cartographer Martin Waldseemüller to use the female gender (America) of his Latinized name (Americus Vespucius), to indicate the new continent in his world map drawn in 1507.




Columbus Day 2012 a Proclamation, by the President of the United States of America

Washington, October 5, 2012

As dawn broke over the Atlantic on October 12, 1492, a perilous 10-week journey across an ocean gave way to encounters and events that would dramatically shape the course of history. Today, we recall the courage and the innovative spirit that carried Christopher Columbus and his crew from a Spanish port to North America, and we celebrate our heritage as a people born of many histories and traditions.

Barack Obama

Barack Obama

When the explorers laid anchor in the Bahamas, they met indigenous peoples who had inhabited the Western hemisphere for millennia. As we reflect on the tragic burdens tribal communities bore in the years that followed, let us commemorate the many contributions they have made to the American experience, and let us continue to strengthen the ties that bind us today.

In the centuries since that fateful October day in 1492, countless pioneering Americans have summoned the same spirit of discovery that drove Christopher Columbus when he cast off from Palos, Spain, to pursue the unknown. Engineers and entrepreneurs, sailors and scientists, explorers of the physical world and chroniclers of the human spirit — all have worked to broaden our understanding of the time and space we live in and who we are as a people. On this 520th anniversary of Columbus’s expedition to the West, let us press forward with renewed determination toward tomorrow’s new frontiers.

As a native of Genoa, Italy, Christopher Columbus also inspired generations of Italian immigrants to follow in his footsteps. Today, we take time to celebrate the innumerable contributions that generations of Italian Americans have made to our country. Throughout 2013, Italy will also commemorate this rich heritage and the enduring bonds between our countries with the Year of Italian Culture in the United States, which Americans will join in celebrating.

In commemoration of Christopher Columbus’s historic voyage 520 years ago, the Congress, by joint resolution of April 30, 1934, and modified in 1968 (36 U.S.C. 107), as amended, has requested the President proclaim the second Monday of October of each year as “Columbus Day.”

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim October 8, 2012, as Columbus Day. I call upon the people of the United States to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities. I also direct that the flag of the United States be displayed on all public buildings on the appointed day in honor of our diverse history and all who have contributed to shaping this Nation.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fifth day of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand twelve, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-seventh.