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Christopher Columbus honored in Springfield as legislators propose eliminating Columbus Day

Italian Americans listen as the Italian National Anthem is played at a statue honoring Christopher Columbus in Springfield, Massachusetts, on October 9, 2023.
Alden Bourne
Italian Americans listen as the Italian National Anthem is played at a statue honoring Christopher Columbus in Springfield, Massachusetts, on October 9, 2023.

Italian Americans in Springfield, Massachusetts, gathered on Columbus Day Monday to honor its namesake. Some of those present said they oppose an effort to get rid of the holiday.

The ceremony was held at a statue of Christopher Columbus in Springfield's South End and was hosted by the local chapter of the Sons and Daughters of Italy.

Salvotore Circosta, who leads the group, said he opposes a bill in the Massachusetts legislature, which would replace Columbus Day with Indigenous People's Day.

"I think a better situation would be instead of replacing, adding," he said. "Let's have a new holiday. Let's honor the Indigenous People, the Native Americans but it shouldn't come at the sacrifice of the Italian holiday of Christopher Columbus."

Joe Liquori came to the U.S. from Italy at the age of ten and also disagrees with losing the holiday.

"Christopher Columbus, good or bad, he discovered America and he should still be respected," he said.

His sister, Maria Von Hollander, agreed.

"There's always been good and bad in all people," she said, adding that life was different back then and it is important to "learn from history but also take away the sacrifices that [were] made hundreds and hundreds of years ago. Crossing an ocean that you have no idea where you're going and bringing two worlds together — many worlds together — and food and spices and just the commerce. And to me, that's what's important."

State Sen. Joanne "Jo" Comerford, D- Northampton, co-sponsored the bill aimed at acknowledging "the history of genocide and discrimination against Indigenous peoples, and to recognize and celebrate the thriving cultures and continued resistance and resilience of Indigenous peoples and their tribal nations," as stated in the proposed legislation.

Lawmakers held a hearing on the bill last week but it is still unclear whether the bill will actually come up for a vote.

Before joining New England Public Media, Alden was a producer for the CBS NEWS program 60 Minutes. In that role, he covered topics ranging from art, music and medicine to business, education and politics.

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