Stand Up for Americans of Italian Heritage: We Deserve More Monuments and an Italian Heritage Day

Jun 30, 2020 1712

BY: Bill Russo

Stand Up for Americans of Italian Heritage: We Deserve More Monuments and an Italian Heritage Day. It’s about legacy, successes and imagery now and in the future. Americans stand up. In the past, Americans of Italian heritage, with decent intent and with community consent had monuments built. The President and Congress authorized a holiday, Columbus Day.

Now, our heritage is under attack, visually and otherwise. Monuments of Columbus have been vandalized, forcibly removed or removed by local leaders. The holiday erased in States and localities and renamed with no regard to Italian Americans.

We are the victims of historical review. Whatever the merits, let’s say the current trend continues: monuments of Columbus will continue to be torn down and Columbus Day rescinded or Indigenous People Day replaces Columbus Day.

Italian American legacy in America and our American history and presence matters.

Even Veterans monuments have been brutalized. World War I in the midst of millions of Italians emigrating to America saw an incredible number of immigrant Italians sign up and serve our country. In World War 11 over 1.5 million Italian-American soldiers served our country,accounting for 10% of the armed forces, of whom 14 won Medals of Honor. Many soldiers of Italian ancestry, in all four corners of America, lost their lives.

Stand up for our collective part with our fellow Americans in defending the freedoms of America when it was threatened. We cannot allow ourselves to be silent, go home and no longer have public reminders of who, how and why we became Americans.

Americans of Italian heritage are demeaned already by stereotypical productions portraying us as buffoons, bimbos, bullies, bad-ass Mafia, and bandits. Now our physical icons that were built with good intentions, almost all of which were paid for by immigrants and Italian American community leaders are targets. Many gone. And, let’s say that doesn’t change .. for now. Who will stand up for our collective image and goodness and successes and the past toils of our ancestors?

Find me another ethnic group that is systematically that has been and is being maligned, monuments attacked, day of heritage obliterated and over generations have our image maligned.

If ‘Gone With the Wind’ is erased for distribution, what about The Godfather Series, Goodfellas, Jersey Shore? In my opinion, every single time a Columbus monument is taken down it must be replaced by an American of Italian ancestry, a figure universally accepted now, as Columbus once was, Columbus Day was designated a National holiday to honor not just Columbus but Americans of Italian Heritage. Italian Americans must have its own Italian Heritage Day. We earned it then, deserve it now.

Our immigrant experience was indeed tragic and included discrimination and lynching.

We don’t hear elected officials offering any compensation to Americans of Italian heritage for these monument removals and for the withdrawal of the recognition of Columbus Day. In public, community and personal relations perception is everything.

With that said, my own experience in discussion with Italian American community leaders informs me that most do not object to an Indigeneous People’s Day, but not at the expense of a day of recognition for Americans of

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