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Remember Italian-American heritage this month

By Staff | Oct 9, 2009

Let’s take a break from the U.S. political scene to remember that the observance of Columbus Day is approaching and to remember the many contributions of Italian-Americans to this nation.

First, the Italian immigrants were always though of as non-white. History shows from 1890 to 1893 that many Italian laborers received the lowest wages working in mines, harbors, ect. Their wages were even lower than others considered minorities. The Italian population increased to over 20 million, one of the nation’s larger ethnic groups.

Italians served in the Civil War. 1.5 Million served in World War II. 39 Italian-Americans won Medal of Honor awards. Our best allies in the Middle East have been led by the Italian government.

Now let’s mention a few who have given much. If you like a Big Mac, thank James Delligatti of McDonalds fame in 1967. From banking to candy making (chocolates from Ghirardelli) to cough drops created by Ciccone, many examples can be found in our history that were invented, founded, and created by Italian immigrants. Let’s not forget our country is named after Amerigo Vespucci, Italian explorer of North America.

In conclusion, on Columbus Day, let us all pause and remember those of Italian heritage whose accomplishments have helped make this a great nation.

Robert J. Rizzo