Washington, D.C.- Congressman Mike Bilirakis, Co-Chair of the Congressional Hellenic Caucus, announced that the House of Representatives unanimously approved H. Con. Res. 202, legislation authorizing the use of the Capitol Rotunda to honor Constantino Brumidi on the bicentennial of his birth. The ceremony will be held on Tuesday, July 26, 2005, at 11am in the Rotunda of the Capitol.
Senator Hillary Clinton and Representative Bill Pascrell, Jr. introduced the concurrent resolution in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives respectively on June 30.
The resolution is also sponsored by the co-chairs of the Italian American Congressional Delegation, Rep. Bill Pascrell and Rep. John Mica (R-FL-7) and by the other co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic issues, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY-14).
Constantino Brumidi immigrated to the United States from Italy on September 18, 1852. He was a student of Rome’s most revered art school, where he studied under artists esteemed by popes and intellectuals. Brumidi left a promising artistic career in Rome to seek political asylum in the United States. 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.’
Constantino Brumidi’s most famous work is the Apotheosis of Washington, a captivating fresco that covers the canopy of the Capitol dome. He also painted a majority of the Frieze of American History, a piece that stretches around the base of the dome. Brumidi’s works can be found throughout the Capitol Building, mainly in the West Corridor, known as the Brumidi Corridor, the Senate Reception Room, the President’s Room and various committee rooms.
Constantino Brumidi has been honored in the Capitol on three different occasions in the twentieth century. Tributes were held in 1952, 1968 and 1980.
Leaders of national Italian American and Greek American organizations, including the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) and the AHEPA, lauded the initiative.
The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) and the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) are co-sponsoring a reception to honor Mr. Brumidi in Statutory Hall of the U.S. Capitol. The reception will immediately follow the Rotunda ceremony.
“NIAF is pleased to be a partner in this important celebration of a great American with our colleagues at AHEPA and distinguished Members of the U.S. Congress,” Dr. A. Kenneth Ciongoli, chairman and CEO of NIAF, said. “Mr. Brumidi epitomized the American dream. He is a hero to all immigrants and should be championed by all Americans.”
“We applaud the efforts of Senator Clinton, Representative Pascrell, Jr., the leaders of the Italian American and Hellenic American delegations, and the Senate Cultural Caucus for taking the lead on this important endeavor,” Franklin R. Manios, president of AHEPA, said. “We are proud to work with our Italian American colleagues to ensure Mr. Brumidi is properly recognized for his contributions to America. He truly did fulfill the ultimate American Dream.”
Bilirakis stated, “Too few Americans know about the impact Constantino Brumidi had on this great nation. Through his breathtaking works, he masterfully links the birthplace of democracy, ancient Greece, to the world’s newest land of liberty, America. Who could have imagined that an immigrant would be tasked with beautifying the most significant building in the United States? I believe that is a testament to his perseverance and our nation’s willingness to embrace those who want to share in the American Dream. I am tremendously proud that we are honoring this true American patriot.”
Rep. Pascrell stated “As the grandson of Italian immigrants, I am proud that the House of Representatives has voted to honor this extraordinary Italian American,” Pascrell stated. “Driven by enormous artistic talent and patriotism, Brumidi adorned the Capitol of his adopted country with the grand democratic symbolism of a rich Greco-Roman legacy. I see no better time or place to honor Brumidi than in his showroom, the Capitol Rotunda, on July 26, 2005, the bicentennial of his birth.”
Rep. Maloney stated, “As a founder and co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, I am especially proud of Constantino Brumidi’s Greek heritage, and I am thrilled that we are recognizing such an outstanding artist and an important contributor to the history of our nation. I would like to thank my colleagues, Representatives Pascrell, Mica, and Bilirakis, for their efforts in getting this resolution to the Floor.”