WILKES-BARRE -- The words "finalemente siamo arriviti," Italian for "we've finally arrived," rolled off the tongue of attorney Joseph Giovannini, guest speaker Sunday at the Italian-American Association's 35th Annual Columbus Day Banquet at Genetti Hotel & Conference Center.
Giovannini recalled the struggles of the early Italian immigrants and the advances they've made in business, politics and sports.
"Italians have come full circle since the early days and have taken pride in their heritage," he said. "In the past, they feared retribution because they weren't accepted."
Attorney Girard Mecadon and Charles A. Adonizio III are two local men who were honored at the banquet for their achievements. Mecadon, 47, who runs his own law practice in Pittston, and is an assistant public defender in Luzerne County, was chosen as this year's Person of the Year. He is involved in numerous community organizations.
Adonizio, 58, the owner/broker of Atlas Realty Inc. and Atlas Insurance Group, was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Adonizio is active in many charitable organizations and is a founding director of Landmark Community Bank.
In choosing the recipients, the IAA looks for Luzerne County residents who are well respected in the community, have an exemplary professional record and who are dedicated to their Italian heritage, said president Jim Deice.
"The basic philosophy of the IAA is to protect and preserve the Italian American heritage and culture."
"I was shocked that I was chosen," said Mecadon. "It is quite an honor."
Mecadon is a board member for the Greater Pittston Chamber of Commerce and serves as solicitor for Buck and Pittston townships.
Adonizio said he was also surprised when he heard the news.
"I'm very honored, but I feel that I'm a little too young to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award."
"I'm very proud of their accomplishments," said U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta of Mecadon and Adonizio.
"(The awards) are very well deserved by both gentlemen. They are a credit to our community," the 11th District Republican congressman said.