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STATEMENT BY THE SONS OF ITALY FOR COLUMBUS DAY 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C. Oct. 2, 2013 - As the biggest and oldest national organization for people of Italian heritage, the Sons of Italy strongly supports celebrating the federal holiday of Columbus Day for several reasons.

First, the day commemorates the remarkable achievement of a skilled 15th century Italian sea captain, whose voyages opened permanent communication between Europe and the Americas. Second, Columbus Day is the only holiday that recognizes the contributions, achievements and sacrifices of this nation's estimated 26 million men and women of Italian descent, the fifth largest ethnic group, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. It is our day to celebrate our heritage while on the other 364 days we are subjected to a relentless stereotyping of our culture, our speech, our religion, and even our most treasured customs by the U.S. entertainment, advertising and news media.

But Columbus matters for a third and even more important reason. After him came millions of other Europeans who brought their art, music, science, medicine, philosophy, law and religious principles to America. Columbus matters because Greek democracy, Roman law, Judeo-Christian ethics and the tenet that all men are created equal are European contributions that helped create the nation we live in today.

Despite all this, Columbus Day is under siege by revisionist historians who paint him as a villain. He was a man of his times for better and for worse. Is it logical or even fair to judge a 15th century man by 21st century standards? Think about it. Do we ban St. Patrick's Day celebrations because of the long and bloody struggle between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland? Do we abolish Thanksgiving because the Pilgrims invaded Indian territory? Take away Columbus Day and what's next? The Fourth of July?

Established in 1905, OSIA has hundreds of thousands of members and supporters in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. OSIA works at the community, national and international levels to promote the heritage and culture of an estimated 26 million Italian Americans, the nation's fifth largest ethnic group according to the U.S. Census Bureau. To learn more, visit www.osia.org.

For interviews, contact Dona De Sanctis/Communications at the Sons of Italy’s national headquarters in Washington, D.C. Tel: 202/547 2900 Email: ddesanctis@osia.org