SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News)- Members of the Italian American community gathered in front of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception Monday morning. In front of the cathedral, sits a monument to the controversial Italian explorer Christopher Columbus.
Despite controversy surrounding Columbus, the Columbus Monument Corporation holds a ceremony every year to celebrate the holiday that bears his name. A prayer was said and a wreath was laid at the foot of the monument after the playing of the Italian National Anthem and “God Bless America.”
The president of the corporation, Mark Nicotra, said that it’s important to remember and teach children about Columbus.
“We can’t cancel history,” Nicotra said. “History is history. “We need to learn from it, move on and teach the youth of our country.”
In place of Columbus Day, some are choosing to celebrate Indigenous People’s Day. Syracuse University held the unveiling of a permanent piece of artwork on the Shaw Quadrangle to kick off the holiday celebrations.
Tammy Bluewolf-Kennedy, the Native American liaison in Syracuse University’s admissions office, spoke out about the harm the Columbus inflicted on the Indigenous population.
“It was a terrible time for indigenous people,” she said. “Horrible things happened.”
Bluewolf-Kennedy said she respects the right of Italian Americans to celebrate their heritage but celebrating Columbus is not the way to do it.
In his speech to those in attendance at the Columbus wreath laying, Nicotra said the Columbus Day celebrations will continue long into the future.