NH House bill HB1335 would remove Columbus Day holiday - we need your voice!
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Italian Americans celebrating Columbus Day 1938

Shining a light on America's past, brightens America's future

A group of immigrants standing on the steps of a church on Columbus Day waving American flags

About Us

The Friends of Italian Americans have joined together to help celebrate American immigrants and their descendants and end discrimination against them. Columbus Day is the only federal holiday that honors American immigrants. Unfortunately, there is a trend in some states and cities in our nation, and now in our state of New Hampshire, to eliminate Columbus Day. This is a very hurtful discrimination against the Italian American community and, more broadly, to descendants of immigrants of all nationalities who appreciate and respect their heritage.

The movement to delete Columbus Day is fueled by two primary factors: First, the mistaken attribution of the day as a celebration of Columbus; and second, a complete distortion of the reputation of Columbus himself.

As an important historical fact, Columbus Day was instituted by President Benjamin Harrison in 1892 as an apology to Italian immigrants who were victims of what is considered to be the largest single lynching in American history -- the "Crescent City" hangings. It was a shameful mark on our country’s history, now forgotten in modern times. The lynching occurred during a period of discrimination not only against Italians, but all immigrant groups. As such, this holiday embraces all immigrants.

Although Columbus never set foot in the United States portion of North America, the holiday was named after him not to honor him, but because, as a coincidence, 1892 happened to be the 400th anniversary of his arrival at the Caribbean Islands. In essence, Columbus was chosen as a symbol, not an idol.

Since its establishment over 130 years ago, this day has been celebrated by Italian Americans and in recent decades by a broader group of immigrants and their descendants. It reflects a combination of both their appreciation of being Americans and their hard work and contributions to the values and progress of our great nation as they pursued The American Dream. A more detailed review of the Italian American experience is reviewed in the “Italian Immigrants” section of this website.

Although Columbus Day evolved into a holiday of celebration, the Friends of Italian Americans ask you not to forget that it is a remembrance of one of our nation’s darkest moments of antagonism and discrimination against immigrants.

We hope you will join us in supporting Columbus Day and as such helping to defeat racism and prejudice wherever it may exist, and reinforcing the promise of the American Dream for all.

 

Mission Statement

Columbus Day is the only immigrant holiday. It is in danger of being eliminated as a result of misinformation disseminated by several vocal groups in cities and towns across the United States. Clearly they do not understand the discrimination they foster. Most recently this trend has struck New Hampshire.

As described under "About Us", Columbus Day was founded as an apology to Italian immigrants who were victims of what is considered to be the largest lynching in American history. Over the decades since its founding, the holiday evolved into a way to recognize the contributions of immigrants toward the values and progress of our country and the hard work, family values, and appreciation of what living in America means.

Our immigrants are deeply appreciative of being in America, and this holiday has been a way for millions of American citizens to thank this great nation. These immigrants worked hard and educated their children with the goal of achieving the American Dream.

As a result, the elimination of this holiday is an insult not just to Italian Americans, but to all immigrant groups.

The cancelling of Columbus Day has taken hold in several towns in New Hampshire mainly because there has been no meaningful testimony from the descendants of immigrants defending this holiday, and shining a light why its cancellation is an inadvertent and unintended act of discrimination against millions of Americans. The Friends of Italian Americans has been formed to educate our citizens and political leaders on the meaning and history of Columbus Day, and to reverse this adverse trend.

The Friends of Italian Americans have joined together to support and become the voice not only for Italian Americans but all immigrants and their descendants of every ethnic, religious or cultural persuasion, with the hope of ending discrimination against all loyal Americans.

Our Motto

Shining a light on America's past, brightens America's future.

 

Board of Directors

Mike Daigle - Portsmouth, NH  
Lou D’Allesandro - Manchester, NH  
Frank Ferraro - North Hampton, NH 
Lou Gargiulo - Hampton Falls, NH 
Paul Montrone - Wolfeboro, NH  
Renee Plummer - Portsmouth, NH

Officers

President:  Mike Daigle
Treasurer:  John Crowley
Executive Director & Secretary:  Sheri Keniston

Overseers

Anthony Annino - Hampton, NH
Al Brandano - Kensington, NH
Dave Bressler - Derry, NH
John Crowley - Hampton, NH
Mike Daigle - Portsmouth, NH
Lou D’Allesandro - Manchester, NH
David Della Penta - Durham, NH
Frank Ferraro - North Hampton, NH
Lou Gargiulo - Hampton Falls, NH
Sheri Keniston - Portsmouth, NH
Karen Keyes - Stratham, NH
Sandra Montrone - Wolfeboro, NH
Massimo Morgia - Portsmouth, NH
Peter Petrigno - Milford, NH
Renee Plummer - Portsmouth, NH
Tom Rea - Rye Beach, NH
Reynold Sachs - Hebron, NH
Joe Santoro - Wolfeboro, NH
Fred Seigel - North Hampton, NH
John Sullivan - Portsmouth, NH
Joe Wojdak - Exeter, NH