Celebrate Your Italian Heritage with Thirty-One Days of Italians

What do Barnes & Noble, Mount Rushmore, Mr. Peanut, Subway, Tropicana, and the Zamboni have in common? All are iconic American brands, and all have a link to someone with Italian heritage. Many of their names, though, are so deeply ingrained in American culture, their Italian affiliation has been diminished.

Any day is a good day to learn about the men and women of Italian heritage who have greatly contributed to America. In 2007, “Thirty-One Days of Italians” was founded to provide a list of Italian Americans and Italians to celebrate for each day in October, Italian American Heritage Month. The list is comprised of more than 70 names.

The first day of October is set aside as a tribute to Italian immigrants. They changed the culture of America and provided their descendants with remarkable opportunities. The last day is to honor someone not on the list. In establishing the list, 15 people were designated Honorary Members, extraordinary in their contributions to America and celebrated every year. For the remaining 14 days in October, the names are rotated every year, providing each with their own day.

From the list of Honorary Members (in alphabetical order):

Father Pietro Bandini (1852-1917)

A Jesuit priest, Father Bandini first came to America in the late 1880s as a missionary for Native Americans in the northwest. Recalling an area in the Ozarks similar to Italy’s environment, he assisted in purchasing the land and established Tontitown in 1898, named after Enrico de Tonti, the Father of Arkansas. Through Father Bandini’s efforts and guidance, the Italian immigrants of Tontitown cultivated the land into vineyards, producing grapes for wine and the Concord grape for commercial use.

Constantino Brumidi (1805-1880)

Known as the "Michelangelo of the Capitol," Brumidi spent 25 years painting the walls and ceilings of the U.S. Capitol. The rotunda of the Capitol and the frescoes and murals on the first floor of the Senate wing are among the most elaborately decorated public places in America. In 2008, Brumidi was posthumously awarded a Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of his contributions to America.

Mother Francis Cabrini (1850-1917)

With a desire to become a missionary at a young age, Francis Cabrini devoted her life to helping others. In 1889 she came to America to work with the Italian immigrants. In America, she established 67 missions, orphanages, hospitals, and schools. She became an American citizen in 1909 and in 1946, she was canonized a saint; the first American citizen to become a saint.

Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

Still recognized by many as the world’s most acclaimed tenor, Caruso’s recordings launched the phonograph industry in the early 1900s and prompted other singers to start recording their music for sale. He first sang at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York in 1903, continuing his association with the Met for 18 seasons. He was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1987 for his significant artistic contributions to the recording industry.

Amadeo Pietro Giannini (1870-1949)

At 14, Giannini left school to help his stepfather run a produce business. Five years later, he was a partner, and at 31, he sold the business to retire. Three years later, he opened the Bank of Italy – based on the concept of lending money to the working class – offering mortgage, automobile, and installment loans. In 1928, he purchased Bank of America, establishing the foundation for the modern banking system.

Antonio Meucci (1808-1896)

Scientist, mechanical engineer, stage technician, business-owner, and the original holder of the patent for the forerunner of today’s telephone, in 2001 Meucci was recognized by the U. S. House of Representatives declaring that “… his work in the invention of the telephone should be acknowledged.”

Maria Montessori (1870-1952)

A medical doctor with experience in psychiatry, philosophy, and anthropology, Dr. Montessori combined her fields to focus on educating children. She developed an educational method based on her belief in treating a child with respect and assisting, rather than teaching, which allows the child to develop fully in all aspects of his or her life.

Arturo Toscanini (1867-1957)

More than 60 years after his final performance, Toscanini – known for his photographic memory, strong beliefs in music interpretation, and demand for perfection – reigns supreme as one of the world’s greatest conductors. In 1926 he began conducting with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and in 1937 the NBC Symphony Orchestra was created for Toscanini. Many credit him today for bringing classical music to the masses.

Amerigo Vespucci (c.1451-1512)

Traveling twice to explore the coastline of South America, Vespucci was the first to realize that the New World was a new continent. Letters he wrote describing his journey were widely distributed in Europe, leading German cartographer Martin Waldseemuller to identify the land as America.

For all Honorary Members and the complete 2022-2023 List, visit http://thirtyonedaysofitalians.com.