Pace Returns to His Roots to Celebrate His Italian Heritage
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
NEW YORK, Oct. 8, 2006 Marine Gen. Peter Pace will serve tomorrow as grand marshal of a parade through streets where his father once sold bananas.
Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks at the Oct. 7 Columbus Citizens Foundation dinner in New York City. Pace will act as the grand marshal of the 2006 Columbus Day Parade in New York City Oct. 9. DoD photo by Staff Sgt. D. Myles Cullen, USAF
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
“There’s no other country in the world where this could happen,” the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo in an interview, yesterday.
Pace will be grand marshal of the annual Columbus Day Parade down 5th Avenue in New York tomorrow. Sponsored by the Columbus Citizens Foundation, it is a celebration of all things Italian.
Pace’s father came to New York City from Italy when he was 5. “When he was 8 years old, he was selling bananas on the streets of Hell’s Kitchen,” the general said. “In his teens, he delivered blocks of ice. After he married my mom, he became an electrician and joined the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 3, here in New York City. He worked two jobs, three jobs, part-time work on weekends in my hometown, which by then was Teaneck, N.J.”
His father worked hard to support four children, and all four became American successes. “My sister had the opportunity to go to college and was a very successful business lady,” the chairman said. “She decided at age 60 to get a law degree and did.”
His older brother preceded the general at the U.S. Naval Academy. “He was a lieutenant and captain of the Marine Corps and went to Vietnam,” he said. “He was wounded twice, (received the) Silver Star medal for bravery. He’s still my hero.”
Pace’s younger brother went to college in North Carolina and is the president of a company in New York City. “So we’ve been very, very fortunate to have the opportunity provided by my parents to take advantage of every opportunity this country has to offer,” he said.
Pace said immigration is the lifeblood of the United States. “It’s fundamentally who we are and what we’re about,” he said.
The United States is a beacon of hope to different peoples all around the world, and the country benefits when they come here. “They come here looking for freedom of religion, freedom to carry out their dreams and they come here with enormous energy,” he said. “They give that energy freely to society.”
And the U.S. military is no exception. “Since this war began September 11, (2001), we’ve had 25,000 immigrants join the military and gain citizenship through their service to their new country,” Pace said. “More than 200 have earned this country’s highest awards for valor.
“There are all kinds of sides to the immigration dialogue. From my perspective, those who came here from other countries have given much more than they’ve gotten,” he said.