DNA Doesn’t Lie
My DNA tells me that I am at least 32% Italian, so what makes up the other 68%? I relate to my Italian heritage because that is how I was raised, but my father’s genealogy is 50% Italian/50% Finnish. When their mother, Mary Tomassini, passed in September 1940 in San Francisco from tuberculosis, Nonna (my great grandmother) told my grandfather, Charles Niemi, “you leave, and leave Carlo & Giudita with me, you never come back”. I’m sure it wasn’t as nice as all that; she never did like my grandfather. Consequently, I have never met him, but I did hear that he used to come to our school and watch us all play during recess.
Searching for my other half
I know very little of my Finnish side, and for the longest time, I thought that my surname, Niemi, was Italian. It was really all I knew. I knew that my mother was not Italian, but in my childish mind the Italian was strong enough to squash out all that other nonsense. I know, my father was 50/50 and have since learned, through the wonder that is genealogy, that my mother is British, Welsh, Scottish, Swiss, French & probably more.
I am searching for my father’s Finnish side and it is a long, slow search. I know nothing of the Finnish language & translation is not easy. That does not, in any way, mean that I will ever give up. I need to find it & I will find it.
I went to visit my Grandmothers grave a few years back. She is buried in the Catholic cemetery in Colma, CA. There, I found this ode, written by Angelo Bianchi. I have it framed, up on my living room wall. Yes, I am Italian and I am proud to be so, but in reality, I also have ties to America, Finland, England, Wales, Scotland, Germany, Switzerland, France and probably a lot more.
I AM AN ITALIAN-AMERICAN
I am an Italian-American. My roots are deep in an ancient soil, drenched by the Mediterranean sun, and watered by pure streams from snowcapped mountains.
I am enriched by thousands of years of culture.
My hands are those of the mason, the artist, the man of the soil.
My thoughts have been recorded in the annals of Rome, the poetry of Virgil, the creations of Dante, and the philosophy of Benedetto Croce. I am an Italian-American, and from my ancient world, I first spanned the seas to the New World.
I am Crisoforo Colombo.
I am Giovanni Caboto known in American history as John Cabot, discoverer of the mainland of North America.
I am Amerigo Vespucci, who gave my name to the New World, America.
First to sail on the Great Lakes in 1679, founder of the territory that became the State of Illinois, colonizer of Louisiana and Arkansas, I am Enrico Tonti.
I am Fillipo Mazzei, friend of Thomas Jefferson, and my thesis on the equality of man was written into the Bill of Rights.
I am William Paca, signer of the Declaration of Independence.
I am an Italian-American, I financed the Northwest Expedition of George Rogers Clark and accompanied him through the lands that would become Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan. I am Colonel Francesco Vigo.
I mapped the Pacific from Mexico to Alaska and to the Philippines. I am Alessandro Malaspina.
In 1904, I founded in San Francisco, the Bank of Italy now known as the Bank of America, the largest financial institute in the world. I am A.P. Giannini.
I am Enrico Fermi, father of nuclear science in America.
First enlisted man to win the Medal of Honor in World War II, I am John Basilone of New Jersey.
I am an Italian-American. I am the million strong who served in America’s armies and tens of thousands whose names are enshrined in military cemeteries from Guadalcanal to the Rhine.
I am the steel maker in Pittsburg, the grower in Imperial Valley of California, the textile designer in Manhattan, the movie maker in Hollywood, the homemaker and the breadwinner in 10,000 communities.
I am an Italian-American without stint or reservation, loving this land as only one who understands history, its agonies and its triumphs can love it and serve it.
I will not be told that my contribution is any less nor my role not as worthy as that of any other American.
I will stand in support of this nation’s freedom and promise against all foes.
My heritage has dedicated to me this nation.
I am proud of my full heritage, and I shall remain worthy of it.
I am an Italian-American.
~ Angelo Bianchi, Esq ~ .nsomyther