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Letter: Let’s honor Vespucci instead of Columbus

Let’s honor Vespucci instead of Columbus

I’m Italian-American. In my heart, American comes first. It’s the country I was born in and fought for. My allegiance is steadfast. I have always honored my Italian heritage. As a child, my heroes were Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Davy Crockett.

Columbus Day was “our day” to celebrate, not only the achievements of that explorer but also of all Italians. We never learned of the injustice that he inflicted on Native Americans, only of his sponsorship by Spain’s Queen Isabella to explore the New World.

The stories of atrocities committed by Columbus have generated protests regarding Columbus Day. While I’m sensitive to the injustices suffered, there’s concern that the rejection of past heroes and traditions are based on today’s standards rather than in the context of their times. Hence, we have saints, presidents and so on being renounced.

It has been suggested that the Columbus Day holiday be converted to Indigenous Peoples Day, taking Columbus Day from Italian-Americans. Our country is named after another Italian explorer, Amerigo Vespucci. I propose that we replace the Columbus name with his. By doing so, we retain this one day of significance to many.

I strongly believe that a day or month should be designated to honor our Native Americans. Perhaps a proper title would be Treaties Day, reminding us that the indigenous people are the protectors of the earth.

Ralph Sirianni

Town of Tonawanda

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