Justice Del Giudice honored by Columbia Association of U.S. Customs
The Columbia Association of U.S. Customs and Affiliated Federal Agents honored four during its 21st annual Italian Heritage Day Luncheon Celebration at Russo’s On the Bay in Howard Beach on Thursday.
Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Vincent M. Del Giudice was honored along with three others including Colleen Piccone, the associate chief counsel for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Department; Fred Rizzo, assistant special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations at JFK Airport; and Ibtisam Amer, border security coordinator for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Department.
State Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis, who is running for NYC mayor in the November election, also spoke at the event. She discussed why she was running and outlined many of the ways that she feels that she is different from Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Standing in front of the Italian flag before a room filled with Italian-Americans, Malliotakis got the biggest applause when she bashed de Blasio’s commission that is studying statues in New York City which, many suspect, could result in the removal of a Christopher Columbus statue on 59th Street in Manhattan.
“I’m not going to be concerned about putting together a statue commission to go after Christopher Columbus statue as if there is nothing else to talk about in this city,” Malliotakis said. “I’m going to be proud to be the voice that defends Christopher Columbus. Just remember a vote for Nicole is a vote for Christopher Columbus.”
Following Malliotakis’ speech, the Columbia Association’s President Phil Maddalena introduced of the honorees, who each gave a brief speech.
Del Giudice opened his speech by thanking his family members and friends in the audience. He then thanked the organization for being such a positive image for Italian-Americans, especially as popular culture often portrayed them otherwise.
“Growing up as an Italian-American, I always heard, ‘Are you in the mob?’ or ‘Are you going to be a gangster?’” Del Giudice said. “The media never portrayed Italian-Americans as virtuous. We were always portrayed as criminals — in ‘The Godfather,’ ‘The Untouchables’ or ‘Goodfellas.’ They never spoke about heroes like you — the Italian-American members of law enforcement who devote your careers to protecting our homeland.”
Del Giudice then talked about all of the great Italian-Americans who contributed to the growth of the United States. He also talked about his grandfather who emigrated to the U.S. and his family members who fought for the country.
Del Giudice, who was the first in his family to graduate from high school, said that he tried to enlist in the military in 1974, but was denied. After he graduated from New York Law School, he became a prosecutor in the Bronx, and eventually a judge in Brooklyn.
“We Italian-Americans are a culture that helped build this glorious country,” Del Giudice said. “Never forget that.”
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