I am very pleased to read that the Dante Alighieri Society announced that they’d reintroduce the wreath laying tradition at Columbus Triangle. The laying of the wreath – as part of the Columbus Day festivities – had honored the visionary efforts of an Italian explorer who truly had the fortitude to pursue a dream. As a “youngin,” I remember the wreath being placed at Columbus Triangle. However, the laying of the wreath at Columbus Triangle abruptly ended; perhaps being a victim of “political correctness” (whatever that is).
Regrettably, in recent years, Columbus’s legacy has been critically questioned; it has been tarnished. Then again, during this era (or, is it “error?”) of confusion; a troubled time plagued with “fake news” and “revisionist” (i.e., “fake”) history, it appears that European heritage has become synonymous with “evil” and “genocide.”
Growing up in Jersey City, I was taught that Columbus was a sagacious explorer. Today, we are bombarded with tales – with pseudo-history – of his nefarious exploits. I even had the unfortunate opportunity to read an absurd essay in which the writer claimed that Columbus was the Adolf Eichmann of his day. That being said, Columbus was no saint. Instead, he was a product of his time and of his generation.
At one time, Italian culture thrived; it was alive and well in Jersey City; and, of course, elsewhere. Granted, patches of it still remain throughout Hudson County. But, with all the controversial and contradictory revisionist history in existence today, even those small pockets are diminishing.
Perhaps the wreath laying will rekindle Italian pride; something that is sorely needed. How long will it be before Columbus Day is substituted – or re-designated – with another federal holiday? How long will it be before statues of Columbus are unceremoniously removed from their pedestals?
Italian-Americans (We) shouldn’t hang their (our) heads low because “fake history” has portrayed Columbus as a butcher; which, of course, he wasn’t. Nor should Italian-Americans (we) be ashamed of their (our) culture because Hollywood would have people believe that they (we) are a bunch of “Tony Soprano” wannabes.
Italian-Americans (We) are not a gaggle of “guidos” and “lazzaroni.” Instead, they (we) are a hard-working people striving to better the community in which we live.
Very respectfully yours,
John Di Genio