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Norwich – The descendants of second, third and fourth generation Italian immigrants who gathered in the Chelsea Parade on Saturday to rededicate the monument of Italian cultural heritage did not talk about the journey of Christopher Columbus or the man himself / p>

They remembered ancestors arriving by ship from the 1890s, often unable to speak English, and settling in a town close enough to the sea to remind them of the Italian villages or towns they did Italians had emigrated from Bologna in the north to Sicily in the south and in many places in between to Norwich

Italian Americans said their parents or grandparents learned English, often from their children who learned it in school, and ended up only speaking Italian when they didn’t want the children to know what they were talking about

Many worked as laborers and masons while others were trained in the arts, education, science, medicine, and agriculture

Leaders of the city’s Italian heritage groups acted swiftly last summer when statues of Columbus were defaced or overthrown in other parts of the state and country by demonstrators linking him to slavery and genocide

The name and image of Columbus have been removed from the statue, which became the 500th anniversary in 1992 Anniversary of the voyage of Columbus was built with private funds

The newly revealed engraving, which was covered with a tarpaulin and then an Italian flag, shows the Italian and American flags as well as a dedication to the Italian immigrants who settled in Norwich.The project costs between 7000 and 9$ 000 and is paid for through private donations

It was never really about Columbus, said many of the 60 or so people who had gathered on the green. It is about the family, as can be seen from the engraving that reads: “Onorate i vostri gentori” or “Remember.” to your parents””

“Today we rededicate the monument to our loved ones,” said Art Montorsi, president of the Italian American Club for Men. “It was never intended to honor a researcher, politician or scientist”

The original 400 names of Italian immigrants, whose ancestors paid $ 300 for inclusion in the statue in 1992, have been preserved and were read aloud on Saturday.The around 60 people who gathered on the green were listening to patriotic music both countries, waiting to hear the name and city of origin of their ancestors

Three generations of the Jacaruso family came to the green to celebrate the rededication. Frank Jacaruso, President of the Italian Heritage and Culture Committee, led the renovation and acted as moderator. His mother’s name, Adeline Jacaruso, is on the memorial Jacaruso’s two children, Jon and Maria, were present with their children

“We told them on the way down that it’s about honoring the sacrifices people have made to make our lives better,” said Jon Jacaruso

Paul Chinigo, an attorney, spoke of growing up in a three-decker apartment building owned by his parents, grandparents, and other family members and being the first in his family to go to college

Nancy DiPietro talked about the Pond Street apartment block her parents could buy for their five daughters, her aunts visiting every Sunday after church, and the competition to see who makes the best red sauce and meatballs could

They said their ancestors were treated badly at times, denied work opportunities and given various derogatory names, but were also greeted by others and eventually learned the language and became part of the urban fabric

The unveiling of the reconfigured statue has been delayed because an Italian company that provided the marble was shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic

Monsignor Anthony Rosaforte of St Patrick’s Cathedral blessed the statue with holy water after thanking the Italian ancestors who came to Norwich for a better life

“You gave us the opportunity to insert ourselves into the US, but also to keep our joy in our heritage, “said Rosaforte.” We are proud to be Americans We are proud of our Italian ancestry May God bless Italy May God bless America And may God bless each of you “

Some critics of Columbus’ removal from the statute watched the revelation and then spoke as the congregation dispersed

Lori Hopkins Cavanagh, who said her mother emigrated from Senigallia, said Columbus was a hero and that his picture was removed from the statue for fear of destruction by members of the Black Lives Matter movement

“I don’t see it as positive,” said Getch Dires, who said he had come to the US from Ethiopia 17 years ago and sees himself as a historian “The real story is removed and replaced by a revised story”

For many, however, the move was a gesture of unity in a city where people from different backgrounds live

“I think it’s fantastic,” said Richard Longo, whose wife Diane stood nearby and nodded, “It brings people together and shows unity among all races”

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World news – FI – Norwich Italians celebrate family at the rededication of the statue