July 17, 2024

The Lido Civic Club of Washington, DC recently honored two distinguished Italian Americans at its 89th Anniversary and Past Presidents Night Gala.  Vito Germinario, CEO of Make-A-Wish Foundation, Mid-Atlantic, was recognized by the Lido Club as the 2018 Man of the Year. The recipient of the Club’s 2018 Distinguished Service Award was Donald P. Loren, Rear Admiral, Retired.  We wanted to share  excerpts of Admiral Loren’s remarks where he speaks about what it means to be an Italian American.

“But what brings us here tonight, is what we all have in common . . . successful business men, dedicated public servants and men of God….is the desire to in whatever way possible, make the world a better place. To give back to our fellow man and to our God the recognition of how appreciative we are for our successes.

How grateful we are to be part of the greatest nation on the planet. And a humble acknowledgement that we did not do this on our own. We do not find ourselves here because of things we have done on our own, we are here because of the greatest thing we have in common. We share the blood of an ancestry who left one way of life to become a part of the great experiment we call America.

We are not Italian. We are ethnic Italian Americans. A blending that is unique in it’s being, and unique in the opportunities we have been given in a country of unique qualities.
Yes, we celebrate the feast of the seven fishes, and San Gennaro, and the only thing next in importance after family is good food….and lots of it, but we take those wonderful Italian customs and values and incorporate them into our lives as Americans.

Americans first. Americans who are fortunate enough to enjoy the wonderful gifts of life our Italian forebearers have passed down to us. And this truly remarkable blending of old world and new world has instilled in us a sense of responsibility, a sense of giving, a sense of service, a sense of sharing that makes everyone of us in this room tonight, the man or woman of the year in their own right.

It is our Italian heritage that demands that we share our good fortune, our skills, our blessings with others. And it is our American being that gives us the opportunity to develop our Italian values into whatever we want to be. To do whatever we want to do. And to climb to the highest levels of accomplishment we can achieve.

And so as the great grandson of a tailor from Naples who lived on a farm in Canarsie, Brooklyn; the grandson of a man whose family operated a Candy store in Queens, and the son of a depression era baby who left high school to join the Navy and fight as an enlisted Sailor in the second world war after the attack on Pearl Harbor… only in America can that descendant of Italian immigrants become an admiral in the greatest navy the world has ever seen.
Can be appointed by the President of the United States to be a deputy assistant secretary of defense, and an assistant secretary of veterans affairs, and can be surrounded in this room tonight by gifted, generous wonderful people such as yourselves all of whom share similar stories.

I am honored to be recognized by all of you tonight. But I take that recognition solely as representative of what we in this room are collectively, and what the Lido Civic club is. The cumulative gathering of people of strong ethnic Italian culture and values, who are appreciative of their lives as Americans, and more importantly recognize their responsibility to their fellow man and to their God to serve others, to share their blessings with others, and show their pride and gratitude in being Italian Americans.

Admiral Donald P. Loren

Thank you for this honor. God bless all of you and may God continue to bless our Italian brothers and sisters and our United States of America.”

Note: The Lido Civic Club has an 89-year history of promoting Italian-American heritage, providing college scholarships, participating in the Wounded Warrior program and other worthy civic endeavors.