Featuring A.J. “Buddy” Fortunato of the Italian Tribune, Freeholder Chairman Alexander Mirabella, UNICO representatives, Italian American ONE VOICE Coalition
The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders announced that Union County’s 12th Annual Columbus Day Flag Raising event is set for Friday, Oct. 9th, at 1 p.m., on the steps of the historic Union County Courthouse. A.J. “Buddy” Fortunato, publisher of the Italian Tribune, will be this year’s special guest speaker.
“We continue to honor the achievements and contributions of Italian Americans who have made amazing contributions in all facets of life to America,” said Freeholder Chairman Alexander Mirabella, who is emceeing the program.
Other speakers include UNICO District X Governor Anthony Bengivenga, who is also on the Executive Board of the Italian American ONE VOICE Coalition. The County will honor members of UNICO District X and the Plainfields’ Chapter of UNICO with a resolution.
A.J. “Buddy” Fortunato is the Publisher of The Italian Tribune newspaper, the nation’s premiere Italian American weekly publication since 1931. Buddy has long been a dynamic, dedicated member of the Italian American community and a champion for Italian heritage and culture in the United States. Born and raised in Montclair, New Jersey, he graduated from Montclair High School and obtained his Bachelor of Science degree from Rider College.
Few high school athletes have matched the level of Buddy’s achievements. He was an outstanding varsity baseball and football player at MHS, receiving First Team All-State honors in his sophomore, junior and senior years. He was also honored with the prestigious AAU Athletic Award. In 1999, Fortunato was selected as one of the Top Scholastic Athletes of the 20th Century by The Star Ledger.
Following his graduation from college, Mr. Fortunato began his career in finance with Merrill Lynch in New York City. He was elected to the New Jersey State Assembly in 1977 and served for eight years
After leaving the legislature, Buddy became increasingly interested in the preservation and promotion of Italian American culture and heritage. His love for and pride in his Sicilian heritage eventually led him to purchase the Italian Tribune from his mother-in-law in 1999, at which time he assumed the position of Publisher. Under Fortunato’s leadership, the scope and influence of the English language Italian newspaper has increased on a grand scale.
He has received many awards and accolades from the Italian government and UNICO, and was inducted into the National Italian American Hall of Fame. Buddy was knighted in St. Patrick’s Cathedral as a Knight of Malta, the highest honor the Catholic Church bestows on a lay person.
Buddy and his wife of 48 years, Marion (Alagna) have two children, Jeffrey (Aleksandra) Fortunato and Sissy (James Hurley) and five grandchildren, Austin, Dallas and Lilliana Hurley and Alli and Jeffrey Fortunato.
As per the flag raising, UNICO is the nation’s largest Italian American service organization whose chapters and members engage in promoting and defending Italian culture and heritage, as well as providing scholarships, engaging in community service and other philanthropic endeavors.
UNICO District X and Plainfields’ UNICO work to organize and co-sponsor Union County’s Columbus Day event. The Italian American ONE VOICE Coalition is an Italian-American anti-bias organization formed of members nationwide that fights stereotypes and advocates on issues impacting Italian Americans.
Italian-style refreshments and pastries will be served after the program outside the historic Union County Courthouse due to COVID-19 restrictions. All those who are attending are urged to wear a mask and follow COVID-19 protocols.
Parking (pay) is available in the Midtown area at the J. Christian Bollwage Parking deck at Elizabethtown Plaza and Caldwell Place. A second deck is Elizabeth’s Parking Deck No. 6 on Jefferson Avenue and Dickinson Street—the entrance is on Dickinson Street.
The courthouse is located at 2 Broad St. in Elizabeth at the corner of Rahway Avenue.