I am a very proud American, second generation. I'm also proud of all four of my grandparents decision to leave their lives and families behind in Italy for a better future here.

I have contact with family in Italy and love them dearly. Whenever I go there, I'm reminded out how American I am. Italian remains the largest ethnic nationality in New Jersey, and a lot of people express their pride in their Italian heritage on Columbus Day.

How and why the story got twisted that Cristobal Colon (Columbus) was Italian is complicated and fascinating. But changing people's perceptions is a monumental task tangled in a mix of emotions and painful historical truths.

Columbus never spoke or wrote in Italian or the local dialect of Genoa. He was Jewish and Castilian Spanish. He was also an extremely intelligent and brave explorer whose accomplishments have been overshadowed by emotionally driven victimization propaganda.

I have no ax to grind with Columbus or Colon, nor do I have any emotional stake in ethnic pride. History is what it is. The truth needs to be uncovered and taught. You can leave all the emotional stuff for people less interested in the truth than they are in racial/ethnic/personal pride and/or resentment.

I prefer the truth and I'll save my pride for the voyage my grandparents made in the beginning of the last century to come to the greatest country in the world.

Italians in New Jersey

Click on a town to see population information. Darker red means a greater percentage of the population is of Italian descent. The numbers are 2015 estimates from the U.S. Census' American Community Survey.

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Dennis & Judi are on the air weekdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tweet them @DennisandJudi or @NJ1015.

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