The Italian Sons and Daughters of America issued a statement to mark Columbus Day, informing fellow Americans about the significant contributions of explorer Christopher Columbus and all the Italian Americans, as well as the importance of their Italian heritage:
Columbus Day has become synonymous with Italian Heritage Day, the day when Italian Americans remember the sacrifices made by their parents and grandparents, and the contributions Italian Americans have made in the U.S.
This includes the time-honored tradition of parades taking place across the country, a tradition that began in the late 1800s as new immigrants sought to “create a sense of self-esteem and dignity during a period where they were subjected to bigotry and prejudice throughout the country.”
The statement on the organization’s website states that the vast majority of the first generation of Italian immigrants came through Ellis Island — a total of more than two million at the turn of the century. By 1920 more than four million Italians had migrated to the United States. Those four million represented 10 percent of the nation’s foreign-born population.
“Today, there are more than 18 million Italian Americans that carry on traditions and represent a heritage that has permeated American culture. Columbus’s journey launched 500 years of immigration to America, attracting peoples from throughout the world seeking a better life for their families — this is the spirit we champion and seek to preserve. We plan on marching, cheering and celebrating our holiday while continuing to respect other cultures, and we hope you do the same,” the organization wrote.