Sicily-USA Friendship Day at Palazzo dei Normanni in Palermo

The figure of Dr. Vincenzo Sellaro, founder of the "Figli d'Italia" in America, was commemorated at the Palazzo dei Normanni. Among the contributions to improving the condition and reputation of Italians in America, there is that of the Sicilian doctor Vincenzo Sellaro, co-founder of the first Italian hospital in America and the Order of the Sons of Italy in America, now known as the Order Sons and Daughters of Italy in America.

The figure of the Sicilian doctor, born in Polizzi Generosa, was remembered by the president of CESTI, Carmelo Cutuli, in the Mattarella Hall of the Palazzo dei Normanni during the "Sicily-USA Friendship Day," held on the occasion of the presentation of the newly established Palermo Chapter of OSDIA.

As Cutuli, author of the book "Vincenzo Sellaro and the Sons of Italy in America," recalled, Dr. Vincenzo Sellaro was born in the second half of the 19th century in Polizzi Generosa, in the province of Palermo. Gifted with great intellect, he was encouraged by his family to continue his studies, culminating in a medical degree from the University of Naples. Immediately after graduating, Sellaro emigrated to the United States, settling in New York, where he completed his specialization courses at Cornell Medical School, obtaining a license to practice medicine in the state of New York. He opened a private clinic at 203 Grand Street in Manhattan's Little Italy. It was there that Sellaro treated hundreds of Italian immigrants, often poorly assisted in the city's hospitals due to the language barrier between patients and medical staff. To overcome this significant obstacle, Sellaro led a committee of bilingual doctors. One of the solutions he identified was to establish a hospital where Italian was spoken. Funds were raised, especially from Italian-American mutual aid societies in New York, and the Columbus Italian Hospital was completed in 1902, with Sellaro as the head of the gynecology department.

Later, Sellaro joined the American Medical Association, where he conducted medical research and established a school for midwives under the auspices of the New York Health Board.

Cutuli emphasized that "in 1904, Sellaro conceived the idea of bringing all Italians in America together in a single organization. His project took shape in June 1905 during a meeting held at his own residence, followed by other meetings leading to the establishment of the Figli d'Italia, later renamed the Order of the Sons of Italy in America, of which Sellaro became the first National President. In 1922, he was awarded the Knighthood by the Italian Government for his assistance to the Italian-American community and the founding of the Order of the Sons of Italy in America. In 1928, Governor Alfred E. Smith presented him with the keys to the city of New York in recognition of his medical and social contribution to the community."

"The relationships with the Sicilian component of American society represent, more than ever, a vehicle of great importance for the promotion of the Italian language, art, and culture, and therefore, we will continue to cultivate and develop this friendship in order to strengthen ties with our fellow countrymen in North America," concluded Cutuli.

During the meeting at the Palazzo dei Normanni, moderated by journalist Sandra Pizzurro, testimonies were given by Carmelo Cutuli, President of Confassociazioni USA, Vincenzo Tiberio Mantia, President of the OSDIA Palermo Chapter, Claudio Frasca, former President of the OSDIA Rome Chapter, Professor Salvatore Tomaselli, Deputy ARS Marco Intravaia, and in connection from the United States, Robert A. Bian


Il Centro Studi sull'Internazionalizzazione si dedica a promuovere la consapevolezza sull'importanza dell'Internazionalizzazione a livello nazionale e regionale.

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