By Joseph T. Cannavo
By now, everyone has made News Year’s resolutions. By the time you may be reading this, you may have already broken your resolutions. If you broke them, you are not alone. I made a resolution many years ago and it is probably the only one that I kept and still keep to this very day. Many of you who know me or are avid readers of this publication are probably saying to yourselves, “This is leading up to another lecture on re-attaching to our heritage, learning Italian, etc.” And if you’re thinking that, you are correct. I like to think that if you are reading this publication you are attempting to re-attach or have started the process. If you are already among those who are actively seeking to re-attach, that’s a good start to the New Year and it’s not too late to make that resolution to do so and keep it. The opportunity to do so is there now more than ever. In the past 20 years there has been a growth of Italian studies in our schools and universities, the establishment of the Delaware Italian-American Education Association’s Children’s Summer Camp and film series, a revival of Italian-American print and broadcast media in the Delaware Valley, and Italian-American organizations around the entire Philadelphia metropolitan area putting a stronger emphasis on working toward their Italian language and cultural initiatives similar to those mentioned above. So, there is no longer the shame that once permeated earlier generations and led them to shy away from our heritage language and culture that once existed and fostered a semi- forced assimilation that left many second and third generation Italian-Americans detached from their heritage and Italian only by name.
Again, for those of you who are re- attaching, don’t stop and be sure to impart your effort to your children and grandchildren. Which bring us to this question, “How many of you are among those who lament about what we have lost in the past and unlike others who are getting involved, still are not doing anything about it?” Of course, I don’t have answers, but I am of the personal opinion that there were probably a number of readers that for whatever reason did not get involved in celebrating our heritage, language and culture in the past. If any of my readers are among those who didn’t or couldn’t go the extra measure in the past, why not make 2019 the year you are going to make it happen? It’s not necessary to wait any longer to celebrate our language and heritage. As stated above all year long there are activities and events that promote our culture and expose us to the Italian language. Most importantly, we need to be sure that part of the celebration of our heritage has to include our children and grandchildren who are the future generations that will decide if Italian heritage will still be vibrant in America or will future generations not even understand they got “saddled down” with some strange sounding surname. Each month the Herald features “Per i Bambini,” which parents and children should be encouraged to read together. I urge those of you who feel strongly about preserving and celebrating our heritage to read carefully the message of this month’s editorial. You’ll understand that being Italian- American in name only is not enough to keep our heritage preserved for the future. Finally, if it’s somehow possible for you to learn even a little Italian, give it a try, and be sure to include your children! It’s never too early to learn a foreign language, whether it’s a nursery rhyme, a counting exercise or a children’s song.