When I was informed of a planned protest to take down the monument of Christopher Columbus that was so proudly erected in Parsippany after the hard work of UNICO members back in 1992, my blood boiled.

These dedicated and passionate Italian Americans work hard to this day to help their communities in so many ways. You ask why? Because they are grateful for the opportunities this great nation gave to their parents and grandparents who immigrated here from their beloved Italy. They worked hard, never taking hand outs from government or anyone else...just hard, honest work! So proud to be American, many immigrant families did not even allow their native language of Italian to be spoken in their homes They wanted their children to assimilate to the new country and BE AMERICAN...and American they are!

Their ancestors proudly fought in world wars to insure the greatest nation would remain that way. Part of what made America the great nation that it is are the freedoms it affords its citizens. One of these is freedom of speech and expression, including being able to erect statues and monuments to those we admire. You see many of these hard working immigrants didn’t have a hero to admire...not realizing the “hero” was within all of them. They chose Christopher Columbus, a brave seafarer from Genoa, Italy who’s navigational skills and courage united a divided world, connecting for the first time the Eastern and Western hemispheres, truly a miraculous milestone

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In recent years, some have taken to attacking this Italian Icon with accusations of murdering and raping the natives of the new land. Much of this is not true and is explained well on the Unico National Website, Unico.org Please check the very informative 15 min “Truth or falsehood ” segment on the site...it is truly eye-opening.

So now to the current events surrounding these monuments...I find it very interesting and somewhat hypocritical that these angry young people are so outraged at the statues that “make them sick when they look at them” and are protesting to remove them They demand their “rights”, forgetting that all Americans have rights They don’t have to like the statues but they do have to allow those who admire Columbus to erect them and celebrate their Italian Heritage

While I was at the protest, I noticed many of these young people were wearing Black Lives Matter face masks.... not sure what this has to do with Columbus but the masks and the raised, clenched fists were definitely indicative of the organization. Interestingly, when my Black friend tried to explain some of the mistruths about Columbus being spewed in their speeches she was confronted with “why don’t you go read a book, I know that would be hard for you!” Seems a bit hypocritical that someone representing Black Lives Matter would be so condescending to an eloquent, educated black woman simply because she disagrees with them

The manipulation, anger and division has to stop! Leave our statues and monuments alone! Our history is our history, it may have its dark side but it is still our history! We must not try to erase it or we will repeat it

God be with our nation,

 

Karen Arakelian

Montville Unico

Montville, NJ