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LETTERS

Cast Columbus aside, but don’t overlook perseverance of early Italian Americans

Anthony Bocchino, a past commander of North End Post 144 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, saluted as the Columbus Day Parade went by in the North End in this 2011 file photo.
Anthony Bocchino, a past commander of North End Post 144 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, saluted as the Columbus Day Parade went by in the North End in this 2011 file photo.Suzanne Kreiter

Joan Vennochi’s stance that times have changed and that it is no longer viable to celebrate Christopher Columbus (“Columbus Day and the politics of power,” Opinion, Oct. 14) may have some justification; however, rather than eliminating the celebration of Italian American perseverance and success that Columbus Day has become over the years, perhaps the next mayor of Boston can issue a proclamation next year on the second Monday of October that includes a ringing commemoration of all that has been accomplished.

Considering the acceptance and success that Italian Americans have achieved, it’s easy to forget that when Italians came to this country in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and populated cities such as Boston, they faced massive discrimination and condescension from so many of those who had come earlier.

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Now think of today’s so-called patriots screaming that immigrants crossing the southern border will never fit in and will change America. Italians brave enough to make the trek here were treated the same in their day.

Yet Italian Americans persevered, and we should extol how far members of an ethnic group may come and the contributions they can make to our country.

I fully agree that we should use the holiday in October not to honor a mythical non-hero of the past but to honor the people he dispossessed. But we should also find a way to honor the Italian Americans who came after Columbus and are a shining example of the reason why, in America, immigrants should be welcomed and not disparaged.

Marc Springer

Brookline