If not Columbus, then who? (Opinion)
The controversy over the destruction and removal of the Christopher Columbus statues continues with The Italian American One Voice Coalition suing West Orange and it's Mayor Robert Parisi after the removal of their statue claiming it deprives Italian-Americans of their civil rights.
Being an American of Italian descent and growing up in an Italian-Hispanic neighborhood in Union City, I understand what Columbus means to the community. Columbus Day gave the Italian-Americans a foothold as they were trying to fit into a country that treated them like the lowest of the low.
Based on that, I think we should leave them alone. If we were to vet all those who have statues in their honor, There would be very few left after say Jesus Christ.
There are those who want to take the statues down, in some cases by means of destruction, but there are no ideas who to put up to honor the Italian community. In 2020, we do want to be all inclusive. So to help out, I asked my audience to come up with other statue worthy Italians who would bring pride to the community.
One name that comes to my mind is Sgt. John Basilone, a Raritan Borough hero who received the nation's highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor for heroism, during the Battle of Guadalcanal, as well as the Navy cross. Basilone is the only enlisted Marine to do so. He also received the Purple Heart and was killed fighting at Iwo Jima after requesting to go rejoin the war rather than stay home and sell war bonds. He even turned down a commission to do so. Can there be a better man to represent Italian-Americans? Basilone is such a hero that he has a street named after him...in Italy!
Here are some other possibilities:
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Steve Trevelise. Any opinions expressed are Steve's own. Steve Trevelise is on New Jersey 101.5 Monday-Thursday from 7pm-11pm. Follow him on Twitter @realstevetrev.
More from New Jersey 101.5: