US President Joe Biden yesterday celebrated the legacy of Italians after Christopher Columbus’ discovery of America and acknowledged the suffering of Native Americans at the hands of European explorers, reports Efe.
Biden issued a presidential proclamation declaring October 11 this year as the Columbus Day holiday and calling for the US flag to be flown on all public buildings. In his address he omitted any reference to the Spanish legacy in America, except to say that Columbus left Spanish coasts.
“Let this day be a day of reflection on the spirit of America’s exploration, the courage and contributions of Italian Americans across generations, and the dignity and resilience of tribal nations and indigenous communities,” he said in the text.
Biden noted that today there is recognition of “the painful history of wrongs and atrocities that many European explorers inflicted on tribal nations and indigenous communities”.
“It is a measure of the greatness of this nation that we do not seek to bury these shameful episodes of our past, that we face them honestly, that we shine a light on them, and that we do everything we can to address them,” he reflected.
He said exploration caused “a wave of devastation” that brought violence against Native Americans, displacement and theft of tribal lands, and the introduction of disease to the continent.
On the other hand, Biden paid tribute to the legacy of Italians in the country.
The only mention he made of Spain came at the beginning of his message when he recalled that, more than 500 years ago, Columbus set sail from the coast of Spain aboard the Pinta, the Niña and the Santa Maria, after securing the support of the Catholic Monarchs.
“While he intended to end the expedition in Asia, his ten-week voyage took him to the shores of the Bahamas, making Columbus the first of many Italian explorers to reach what would later become known as the Americas,” the president remarked.
Biden noted that many Italians would follow Columbus’ path over the centuries: “Today millions of Italian Americans continue to enrich our nation’s traditions and culture with lasting contributions to our nation.