Columbus Day, Monuments Represent Values Worth Fighting For

It's time we take a stand against the fever pitch that aims to erase Columbus' holidays and monuments.

Italian Americans rallied at New York City Hall on Thursday in support of keeping the statue of Christopher Columbus in Columbus Circle.

The protest was triggered after city officials requested that the statue be considered for removal as part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s review of what he called “symbols of hate” on city property.

Read this letter from the Columbus Citizens Foundation in response to the Columbus circle issue. 

We at ISDA strongly disagree with such positions, and it’s our aim to peacefully counter the fever pitch that calls for uprooting Columbus’ statues and involves changing Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day.

As we have in the past, we will continue to offer our full support to Italian Americans who want to preserve these monuments and the spirit of discovery and exploration — not hate and oppression — that they symbolize.

Our Solution 

Seattle, Minneapolis, Berkeley and Santa Cruz have rededicated our holiday to Indigenous Peoples Day, as did Oberlin, Ohio this past week. Now there are calls from New York to Columbus, Ohio to Los Angeles to erase the 80-year-old national holiday that collectively celebrates our culture, heritage and traditions by acknowledging the sacrifices, accomplishments and contributions from generations past and present.

The Italian-American community has always supported the designation of an Indigenous Peoples Day as it is certainly most rightly and most justly deserved. We respectfully suggest the day after Thanksgiving, or August 9th (the day the United Nations has designated as Indigenous Peoples Day throughout the world) to be considered as alternate options.

What we don’t support is the political agenda of those who want to rewrite history, and in the process, diminish and distort our traditions by targeting Columbus Day.

A tradition of pride and unity

Columbus Day has become synonymous with Italian Heritage Day, the day when Italian Americans remember the sacrifices made by their parents and grandparents, and the contributions Italian Americans have made in the U.S.

The time-honored Columbus Day parades actually began in the late 1800s as Italian immigrants attempted to create a sense of self-esteem and dignity during a period where they were subjected to bigotry and prejudice throughout the country.

A movement forward

Despite the recent rededications, it was the tragic acts that played out in Charlottesville earlier this month that have moved politicians and their constituents to take down monuments and petition for name changes. We neither endorse nor will we tolerate the rhetoric or actions of misguided hate groups in America that have used national monuments to underpin their destructive and reprehensible causes.

Columbus’s journey launched 500 years of immigration to America, attracting peoples from throughout the world seeking a better life for their families — this is the spirit we champion and are fighting to preserve.

Each October (which coincidentally is Italian American Heritage Month), Italian Americans rally together at Columbus Day parades across the nation, celebrating history, traditions and values as a culture.

We plan on marching, cheering and celebrating our holiday while continuing to respect other cultures.

We hope you join us in our mission to defend our traditions, uphold our culture and peacefully seek an outcome that provides a just and equitable solution for everyone concerned.

Basil M Russo, President, Order ISDA


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