The legacy of the Genoese explorer proves formidable in all 50 states — from Columbus, Georgia to Columbia, Oregon.
By Truby Chiaviello, PRIMO Magazine
The battle for Columbus continues.
In Syracuse, the Columbus monument still stands, inside Columbus circle there; yet Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh is moving on with his appeal after a stunning legal defeat, back in March, when Supreme Court Justice Gerard Neri blocked Walsh’s order to remove the navigator’s statue.
The lawsuit to save the statue was raised by the Columbus Monument Corporation, a Syracuse-based group of Italian American advocacy leaders.
“Ben Walsh is out of touch with the majority of Americans,” the Columbus Monument Corporation wrote in a recent email blast. The organization continues to make their case to the general public; this time with impressive data, compiled nationally on the status of Columbus in the form of monuments, statues and name bearing municipalities and landmarks.
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“Ben Walsh said he does not like the message that the historic Columbus Monument in Syracuse sends to his constituents. In 1934, the message at the monument’s unveiling was that European immigrants were thrilled to call Syracuse their home, and Syracuse was happy to have them as citizens. Indeed, that same message rang throughout the United States. And it still does. Most Americans continue to honor the explorer, and refuse to scrub his name from thousands of places.”
The year 2020 remains one of the most divisive in American history. Many Columbus monuments and statues were either removed by official decree or torn down by rioting mobs in the wake of George Floyd’s tragic death by police in Minneapolis. In several unique graphic displays, pictured, by the Columbus Monument Corporation and PRIMO Magazine, only “40 monuments to Columbus” were removed, while 130 Columbus monuments “still remain, making Columbus one of the most venerated figures among U.S. monuments and memorials. Only Abraham Lincoln and George Washington enjoy greater presence in American statuary.”
It was Chicago to rank as the worst in a display of mob pressure in 2020. Demonstrators assembled, one summer evening, in front of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s private residence, to threaten her and her neighbors with possible property destruction, to force her to remove three Columbus monuments in Chicago. Yet, as the Columbus Monument Corporation has noted, Chicago is one of several cities, today that is considering reinstalling Columbus monuments to previous locations.
“More than 6,000 places in the U.S. take their name from Christopher Columbus,” the Columbus Monument Corporation reported. “There are streets and avenues and traffic circles, along with lakes and rivers and mountains — defining features of the nation’s civic and natural geography.”
Columbus Day remains a day of celebration for thousands of Syracuse residents when they “gather at the historic Columbus monument to pay tribute to those generations…who fought for and defended the very special freedoms afforded to immigrants when they came and made this their home,” read a press statement by the Columbus Monument Corporation. “If that is a ‘bad message,’ as Walsh suggests, then he is really out of touch with the majority of Americans and with his own city.”
PRIMO Magazine and the Columbus Monument Corporation are two of the 54 leading Italian American groups that comprise The Conference of Presidents of Major Italian American Organizations.
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