"Memories of Growing up in an Italian Family"
Glenn J. Beech

Introduction to the
Festa Italiana: An Appreciation of All Things Italian
Penn State McKeesport
Sunday, October 24, 1999

    On behalf of the faculty, staff, students and administration of Penn State McKeesport I would like to welcome you to this event.  It is a pleasure to see so many people here today to participate in learning and sharing our Italian heritage.

    Many times over the last six months, during the planning of this event, I have been asked, “Why would someone with the last name Beech become involved in program on Italian heritage?”
    My response to this was.  "In questo mondo chi sono donne italiane che non sposano uomini italiane!"  And this is my case my Italian mother did not marry an Italian.
    I want you to know that I love my father and his side of the family dearly but because I grew up two blocks away from my maternal grandparents and almost on a daily basis I was in the house of my Nonno and Nonna.  These daily visits provided me with a wonderful experience.  And from those days I have many warm and pleasant memories of the Italian side of the family.

    I would like to share some of those memories with you:

    These are not only my memories, for if you grew up in an Italian family these are also your memories!  This is what connects us to Cadore, Calabria, Lazio, Abruzzi, La Campangia or Sicilia.  This is what makes us who we are.  These are experiences and memories we need to pass on to our children and grandchildren.  Without these experiences and memories the Italian American experience is lost for the generations to come, and our children will be Italian by last name only!  So it was for this reason I felt the need for this program and for other programs like it.  Not only to refresh my and your memories but to make you want to share those memories with those you love and to bring those traditions and experiences alive to a new generation so they will have memories and experiences of their own to pass to the next generation.

I hope you enjoy the program we have planned for you today.  Listen, talk and share.