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Assemblyman Michael Torrissi Jr. at Gov. Phil Murphy's fiscal year 2023 budget address delivered on March 8, 2022. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe).

Torrissi: ‘I couldn’t be prouder of my Italian heritage’

By Assemblyman Michael Torrissi Jr., October 10 2022 3:54 pm


Today is Columbus Day and I couldn’t be prouder of my Italian Heritage.  My family immigrated here to NJ in the early 1920’s and settled in Hammonton NJ in Atlantic County, one of the most Italian towns in the state.  Sorry Essex County and the rest of Northern NJ, but we are in Atlantic County, south of 195 where the oldest running Italian Festival takes place every year on the 16th of July.  You are all invited next year to pin some money on Saint Joseph or Michael or your own patron saint.  Hammonton has a strong history of farmers who grow fields, wineries, gardens and trees from Italy and more importantly Sicily.

You will often here the phrase, hey where you from?  Calabrese? Napolitano?  I’m from Catania, Sicily, my mother’s family is from Gesso near Messina.

Today is a day we honor our Italian Heritage.  Now I am Sicilian on both sides and I will stay away from any movie references.  New Jersey as a state has so many people that can relate to being Italian.  You know who you are, your mother was Italian (probably the best-looking girl in the neighborhood?) but married that Irish or Jewish guy down the street.  I know you and we are family, even though I have better charm.

In today’s world we need to get back together in being one family regardless of your heritage.  I spoke this morning at the Sons of Italy lodge in Hammonton, NJ and I am proud of being an Italian American Assemblyman in NJ.  Today I am not Republican or Democrat but an Italian American Assemblyman.  My vowel at the end of my name I wear as a badge of honor and represent all people of New Jersey.

No matter what your background is, we all need to respect each other and share in our holidays, culture and traditions.  We should take every holiday to teach the kids of this state more about the culture that each holiday represents.  I’m proud to be in a place to represent my specific culture on a day like today.  God Bless NJ and Happy Columbus Day.

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