On Tuesday, June 2 — Italian Republic Day — local resident Vito Cannella was awarded Knight of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Italy. Conducted by the consul general of Italy, the ceremony was held at UCLA’s Royce Hall and attended by about 350 people. He was one of several Italians recognized for their community work.
The honor was given for Cannella’s years of service to the County of Los Angeles through the office of Supervisor Michael Antonovich. He has been an active member of Antonovich’s citizen team for about 25 years, originally helping to bring attention to Columbus Day.
“I organized behind the scenes for the Christopher Columbus Day celebration,” recalled Cannella.
His outreach efforts with the supervisor’s office have taken him around the world. Cannella recounted a trip to the Lazio Province in Rome two years ago with Antonovich and other county leaders. The trip included a private audience with the pope, an event that he said he “will cherish for the rest of my life.”
Cannella is also known for his efforts with other local leaders in establishing Flag Week in 1966. Flag Week is from June 14 through June 20.
Cannella was honored to receive the recognition saying that “very few people have been given this outside of Italy.”
Supervisor Antonovich was pleased that Cannella had been recognized for his hard work.
“This award from the Italian government is a fitting tribute for a dedicated individual who has worked tirelessly on behalf of Italian-Americans,” Antonovich said in a prepared statement, “and all the citizens of our county, state and nation, as my appointee to the Sybil Brand and human relations commissions and as a volunteer helping those with disabilities.”
With family and friends in attendance and accompanied by the music of an Italian choir, Cannella was pleased by the presentation. “It was a really beautiful night.”