Thank you @EllisIsland for an outstanding afternoon:

Congratulations to Tony LaRussa, Richard Meier and Angela Lansbury.  All three were honored today by the Ellis Island / Statue of Liberty Foundation.  LaRussa received the Family Heritage Award, Meier for The Arts / Architecture, and Lansbury with the B.C. Forbes Peopling of America Award.

I was honored by the Foundation in 2006 with the Family Heritage Award.  It was one of the great honors I have ever received as they presented me with a framed manifest of the ship my father was on when he came to America and landed at Ellis Island.  My father was my hero.  He taught me more about life than anyone I have ever known.  He drove a truck in a stone quarry in Norristown, Pennsylvania, and during the winter his feet would be frozen by the time he came home.  We would take his boots off for him and rub his feet before he put them in the oven.

Like today’s honorees, and like hundreds of millions of my fellow Americans, I come from a family of immigrants.  My father loved Italy, but he came here for a new life, for a better opportunity, and to pursue the American Dream.  While everybody has a different idea of what that dream is, collectively it is the very essence of our national values.  Hard work, self-confidence, faith in a better tomorrow and the strength of family were all tenets while honoring and preserving their respective heritage.

The guts it must have taken to pack everything you own, leave everything you know, and travel around the world to a place that you have only heard of is truly amazing.

Every night I thank god that my father did not miss that boat.  However, if he had missed it, I would have been Pope Thomas XXVI.

All kidding aside, I am proud to be on the Board of Directors of the Foundation, and honored to have been a part of the ceremony today.

Congratulations again to Tony, Richard and Angela.

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