I'm so proud to be a third-generation Italian American and consider myself lucky to have grown up in an Italian neighborhood in Union City.

Italian Red Cross Makes Meals For Rome's Homeless During Coronavirus Lockdown
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So as we celebrate Italian American Heritage Month, I think it would be a great thing if all those like me would take the time to learn about the struggle of our ancestors.

When they came to this country many had to overcome adversity so that we could have the lives we live today.

Dennis Malloy photo
Dennis Malloy photo

There's a great four-part PBS series called "The Italian Americans," which does a great job telling our story.

It's a story every Italian American should be proud of, and it starts with family.

When the Italians first came here they were not given sanctuary but instead handed a shovel.

Josephine Kempf

They were not welcome with open arms but instead looked down upon.

The Italians were the victims of the largest mass lynching in this country when 11 were hung in New Orleans after being found not guilty of the murder of a police chief.

New York City Officials Rally In Support Of The Christopher Columbus Statue
In 2017, supporters rallied amid debate over continued relevance of the Columbus Circle statue in New York City (Getty Images)

Theodore Roosevelt, according to TheAmericanMag.com referred to it as "a rather good thing."

When World War II broke out, hundreds of Italian "enemy aliens" were sent to internment camps, and more than 10,000 were forced from their homes.

In 1941, the Italian Americans Yankee centerfielder Joe DiMaggio was the most popular man in America while his parents were unwanted enemy aliens. Go figure.

Marilyn Monroe, right, dressed in a glamorous evening gown, arrives with Joe DiMaggio at the theater
Marilyn Monroe, right, dressed in a glamorous evening gown, arrives with Joe DiMaggio at the theater (AP Photo, File)

Those were just some of the adversities suffered by the Italian Americans.

The accomplishments are way too many to celebrate in just a month.

Some of the greatest singers are Italian-American.

In New Jersey, we have our own "Fab Four."

BBC Proms In The Park - Hyde Park
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They would be Frank Sinatra, Frankie Valli, whose real name is Francis Stephen Castelluccio, Jon Bon Jovi, and Bruce Springsteen who is part Italian.

Getty Images
Getty Images
Jon Bon Jovi Portrait Session
Drew Gurian/Invision/AP
Bruce Springsteen Media Call
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Take that John Paul George and Ringo.

Beatles At The BBC
Photo by Central Press/Getty Images

We could also talk about movies like "The Godfather," TV shows like "The Sopranos" and how Italian Americans have to deal and overcome with the mob stereotype to become some of the most successful people in the country and the world.

The Godfather HBO behind the scenes
Forget Phil- NJ's got 2 Groundhogs & Coati Day- The NJ Breakroom (Paramount Pictures)
Tony Sirico, James Gandolfini
Tony Sirico, left, and James Gandolfini hold their awards for best ensemble in a drama for their work in "The Sopranos" at the 14th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on Sunday, Jan. 27, 2008, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

BTW, Did you know that The Bank of America was first known as the Bank of Italy?

So much to know, so much more to find out.

I passed along these stories and showed my sons Lennon and Albert "The Italian Americans" while eating pizza. It made for a great family night followed by lots of conversation.

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