Sisters and Brothers:
I hope this edition of the “Il Leone” finds you all well and safe.
As we draw closer to Columbus Day, I think it is time to revisit what Columbus means to the Italian American community. Lets start with how the celebration began.
In 1892, the 400th anniversary of Columbus landing in the New World, following a lynching on New Orleans where a mob murdered 11 Italian American Immigrants, President Benjamin Harrison declared Columbus Day as a onetime national celebration. The proclamation was part of a wider effort after the lynching to placate Italian Americans and ease diplomatic tensions with Italy.
Many Italian Americans observe Columbus Day as a celebration of their heritage, and the first celebration had already been held in New York City on October 12, 1866. The day was first enshrined as a legal holiday in the United States through the lobbying of Angelo Noce, a first generation Italian, in Denver. The first statewide holiday was proclaimed by Colorado governor Jesse F. McDonald in 1905, and it was made a statutory holiday in 1907.
In1934, as a result of lobbying by the Knights of Columbus and New York City Italian leader Generoso Pope, Congress passed a statute stating: “The President is requested to issue each year a proclamation (1) designation October 12 as Columbus Day, (2) calling on the United States Government officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on Columbus Day; and (3) inviting the people of the United States to observe Columbus Day, in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies that express the public sentiment befitting the anniversary of the discovery of America. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt responded by making such a proclamation. This proclamation did not lead to the modern federal holiday.
In 1966, Mariano A. Lucca from Buffalo, NY, founded the National Columbus Day Committee, which lobbied to make Columbus Day a federal holiday. Which successfully became so in 1968.
With all the hoopla of our Indigenous Peoples, I wonder if they care enough to see what this day means to us, the Italian Americans. I do not think they do because if they did perhaps Italian Heritage Day would have been the alternative. Why usurp our day. Do they not care about the Italian Immigrants that were lynched. I’m sure they have no idea how this came about and are so concerned with their own issues that they don’t care. Our Indigenous People have gone through many troubling times but to demand that the Italian Americans give up their day is not the way to make up for it.
Thank you for all you do to keep our Order strong.
Till next month
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