AHEPA Joins with Italian American Groups to Co-Sponsor Events in Honor of Constantino Brumidi

Receiving the Senate Resolution that honors Constantino Brumidi's legacy are (l-r):
AHEPA Supreme President James, NIAF Chairman Dr. Ciongoli,
Senators Kennedy and Enzi, Minister Stefanini, and Consul Klotsa

Washington, D.C. – The American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) and the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) co-sponsored two receptions Tuesday, July 26, 2005 on Capitol Hill in honor of Constantino Brumidi, artist of the United States Capitol, on the 200th anniversary of his birth.

The first reception, held in Statuary Hall, followed a ceremony held by the United States Congress at the Capitol Rotunda that commemorated Brumidi’s artistic contributions to the Capitol as well as to St. Stephen’s Church in New York City.

The following members of Congress spoke at the Rotunda ceremony: President Pro Tempore of the Senate Ted Stevens (R-AK), Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN), Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-8-CA), Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), who introduced the concurrent resolution in the U.S. Senate authorizing the use of the Capitol Rotunda for the ceremony; Sen. Michael Enzi (R-WY), co-chair Senate Cultural Caucus; Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-8-NJ), who introduced the concurrent resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives and who co-chairs the Italian American Congressional Delegation; and Rep. Michael Bilirakis (R-9-FL) who co-chairs the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues and who co-sponsored the concurrent resolution. The Honorable Lindy Boggs, a former ambassador to the Vatican and member of Congress also offered remarks.

At the Statuary Hall reception, the audience received remarks from: Sen. Clinton; Rep. Pascrell and his co-chair of the Italian American Congressional Delegation, Rep. John Mica (R-7-FL); Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-14-NY); co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, His Grace Bishop Dimitrios of Xanthos, who represented His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios,; Supreme President Gus J. James, II; and Dr. A. Kenneth Ciongoli, Chairman of NIAF.

An evening reception co-hosted by Senators Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Michael Enzi, the co-chairs of the Senate Cultural Caucus, was held in the Lyndon Baines Johnson Room of the U.S. Capitol, which was painted by Brumidi. In addition to these two senators, also present were: Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes (D-MD), Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH), Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH), Rep. Donald Payne (D-10-NJ), and Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-1-NV) who is of Greek heritage.

Supreme President James, who spoke at both receptions, said of Brumidi: “His Greek heritage provided his passion for democracy, citizenship, and liberty and his Italian heritage provided the artistic influence, talent and style through which he communicated his love for America on the corridors, in the rooms, and in the canopy of the Capitol Rotunda. Brumidi truly fulfilled the ultimate American Dream.”

He added: “We are grateful to our friends in Congress who worked together in a bipartisan spirit to properly commemorate Brumidi and his contributions to America. Moreover, we are pleased to work closely with our Italian American colleagues and friends on this noble initiative.”

Dr. Ciongoli, chairman, NIAF, also presented remarks at both receptions. In the evening, Consul Adamandia Klotsa spoke on behalf of the Embassy of Greece and Minister Stefano Stefanini spoke on behalf of the Embassy of Italy. Curator Barbara Wolanin enlightened the audience about Brumidi’s life and artwork. Also in attendance during the entire day’s events was Margaret G. Conomos, a descendant of Brumidi who resides in Washington.

AHEPA Past Supreme President Franklin R. Manios, Supreme Vice President Ike Gulas, and Supreme Counselor Arthur Dimopoulos accompanied James.

A framed proclamation honoring the life and legacy of Brumidi was presented to James, Ciongoli, Klotsa and Stefanini by Senators Enzi, Kennedy, and Sarbanes all of who co-sponsored the proclamation.

For statements issued by members of Congress on yesterday’s events, please visit the following Web sites:

Minority Leader Pelosi:

Rep. Bilirakis:

Rep. Pascrell, Jr.:

The son of a Greek father and Italian mother, Constantino Brumidi arrived in New York where he began building his legacy as the “Michelangelo of America.” His most famous work is the Apotheosis of Washington, a captivating fresco that covers the inside of the Capitol Rotunda. He also painted a majority of the Frieze of American History, a piece that bands around the base of the Rotunda. Mr. Brumidi has been honored in the Capitol in 1952, 1968 and 1980. The late Congressman Peter Rodino (N.J.) was the master of ceremonies during the 1968 and 1980 ceremonies.

These important events were the result of the collaboration of a number of groups including: The NIAF/Frank J. Guarini Public Policy Forum on Capitol Hill; The Constantino Brumidi Society; Order Sons of Italy in American (OSIA); and the Conference of Italian American Presidents.

The NIAF, a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., is dedicated to preserving the heritage of Italian Americans. The NIAF organizes cultural activities and helps young people with scholarships, internships and other programs. For more information, visit the organization's site at www.niaf.org

The American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) is the largest and oldest American-based, Greek heritage grassroots membership organization. Its scope is international with chapters in the United States, Canada, Greece, and Cyprus, and "sister" chapters in Australia and New Zealand under the auspices of AHEPA Australasia. AHEPA was founded on July 26, 1922 in response to the evils of bigotry and racism that emerged in early 20th century American society. It also helped Greek immigrants assimilate into society. Today, AHEPA brings the ideals of ancient Greece, which includes philanthropy, education, civic responsibility, and family and individual excellence to the community. The AHEPA family consists of four organizations: AHEPA, Daughters of Penelope, Sons of Pericles and Maids of Athena. For more information about the organization or how to join, contact AHEPA Headquarters (202-232-6300) or visit the organization's newly redesigned website at http://www.ahepa.org.

HCS maintains an extensive archives of AHEPA articles and press releases which readers are invited to browse under the AHEPA Family Releases section of the site archives at http://www.helleniccomserve.com/contents.html. For more information about this particular topic, please also see the release "AHEPA and Italian American Groups Commend Congress for Initiative to Honor Constantino Brumidi, the Michelangelo of the U.S."

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