Many of the members of my dad’s family served in WWII and I’m always fascinated to learn more about their service. I’ve bought my dad books on the history of the war and also on Italian immigrants, so when I was looking for things to do for his birthday, a quick Google search brought me to the Italian American Veterans Museum website. We were excited to visit and learn more about the role Italian Americans played in the defense of our country. While planning our trip to the museum from Davenport, Iowa, we also enjoyed the recorded interviews posted on the website.
The museum’s executive vice president, Paul Basile, took time out of his weekend to give us a personal tour. His extensive knowledge of the artifacts in the museum and the incredible stories of heroics made the 2.5-hour trip well worth our time. I’m thankful that Paul and the community continue to support this important endeavor honoring our brave servicemen and women, and especially honoring our heritage of Italian strength and courage.
— Toni Nicoletto
Thank you so much for inviting the Census Bureau to participate in your Jan. 11 Veterans Resource Fair. It was quite an experience. I enjoyed the history that you showcase in your museum, as well as talking with the many veterans and meeting the service animals! While I will not be with the Census next year, as this is a temporary position, I hope to make it back to spend more time in your wonderful museum.
— Nadine Smith, Recruiter Assistant, U.S. Census Bureau
I thought your Jan. 11 Veterans Resource Fair was OUTSTANDING!!! Once the word gets about its success, you’re really going to pack the house. Congratulations!
— Anthony Siciliano, Commander, American Legion Post # 974, Franklin Park
“I had been to Casa Italia many times and never knew there was a museum. I’m so glad they announced that it was open during the Christmas Village Mass. It’s laid out very well and the kids had so many interesting questions.
“I loved reading the letters soldiers had written to their loved ones while serving in war. The way they wrote and what they said made history come alive for me. Also with all the technology our children are growing up with, it was nice to show them how people communicated back then.
“It was also wonderful to see and read about our military history,” Angela wrote afterward. “As children of immigrants, one thing my parents always taught us was how lucky they were to have come to America and to be thankful and proud to be an American Italian.
“I loved your museum and will be stopping by again as well as sharing this with friends and family that may not be aware of this museum.”
— AnnaStella Grana
“I was met at the door by the Marine Color Guard with the Navy Band playing in the background, which quickly told of the level of class this event was to be. It was packed, shoulder to shoulder, with people just bursting with proud memories. I saw families taking pictures of their fathers with the Medal of Honor behind them and taking pictures of their own exhibits. I saw daughters, sons and wives of veterans who have passed on just staring at their loved ones’ exhibit, with eyes filled with tearful pride.
“I made my way to the back where my father’s photo is displayed. I just could not look at it right away, for I knew this would be a special moment. I had seen it before, of course, but today was different.
“I needed to build up courage to look at his memorial. I positioned myself in front of his display, being very careful not to look up right away. I waited for a minute or two, until I was basically alone in front of his exhibit. As the U.S. Navy Band performed his favorite tune, Glenn Miller’s “String Of Pearls”, I slowly raised my eyes until they met his, and the inevitable and expected emotional moment came. It was just me and my dad, together again. With tears running down my face I gave him the military salute we would exchange occasionally. I was able to tell him again, for the millionth or so time, how proud I was of him.
“To me, the event had a very deep vibe. It seemed that there was a different energy in the room. It was crowded, but not just by attendees, but I also believe the souls of the veterans on display came to life. I think the war heroes welcomed their loved ones to their home, the place where their heroic missions will be be remembered. It was as if each one of those heroes came to life on that day, slapping each other on the back, much like in the film “Field Of Dreams,” to tell their stories personally. I felt them all milling about the room along with their families, clad in uniform, young and strong. I am not kidding, they were all there.
“My dad would say that his time in the military would be his most memorable. Now, we not only have a proud gravestone at the cemetery, but we also have a place to foster HIS great memories and to celebrate one of the things that truly defined him. This place that you have masterfully created is incredibly church-like. It is a place of worship and reflection, for both the families of the vets, and in some magical way, for the veterans themselves.
“Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
— Ron Onesti