Dear Friends of the National Columbus Association,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me acknowledge, and thank the personalities who are here to honor the Legacy of Columbus: Colonel Thomas J. Hogan, President of the National Columbus Celebration Association, along with Vice President James McCusker; Ambassador Joaquin Maza – Permanent Representative of El Salvador to the Organization of American States (OAS); Rebecca Karcher, Supervisory Park Ranger; Martha Hilton, Past Vice-President General - The National Society Daughters of the American Revolution; John Marino – Executive Director, NIAF; Alvaro De Sala – Consul General of Spain. Also, a warm welcome to Ms. Bridget McKay, from the Embassy of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, and to the many representatives of Italian-American organizations. The United States Armed Forces Honor Guard and to the Knights of Columbus Color Corps are giving, with their presence, a special meaning to our celebration. This year's recipient of the “National Youth Columbus Essay Contest” prize is Lucas Hadley. Many congratulations to Lucas for your excellent work, which has been rightly recognized.
Today it is also important for me to underline the exceptional bonds which exist between our People - between Italy and the United States, between Europe and America. It is important in a day where the italian people and institutions are mourning their befallen sons in Afghanistan. They have shared with all americans the purpose and the ideals of a of freedom.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Our celebration of a man whose achievements marked the advent of modern times, means we’re celebrating mankind’s freedoms and our natural desire to broaden our knowledge. Columbus embodies the man who overcomes his own limits. Who is not afraid to question what is held as truth at his time. Who succeeds in merging Science and Utopia – the vision and the knowhow to reach it. He had a vast and profound culture, and was a clever and talented explorer. His passion for cartography, seamanship, religion, his love of astronomy, and history led him to extraordinary exploits, to new frontiers and discoveries.
Columbus’s determination to set sail for the New World wasn’t only spurred by the books he had read: he was driven by the values of his era. In other words, Columbus’s eclectic personality makes him a true hero of the Renaissance, a symbol of its most important belief, the centrality of Man in history. He traveled beyond the Pillars of Hercules, and made a statement of a Humanity in charge of its own destiny and which fully pursues its potential. This concept fully evolved through the italian Risorgimento and became a founding element of the cultural identity of my country.
Through Columbus we acknowledge the important contribution of the entire Italian-American community, to the building of the American nation. Many other Italians followed in Columbus’s wake and have enriched American history and culture; their achievements are a matter of pride for us all.
In his proclamation for the Columbus Day, the President of the United States has, very significantly , underlined that Italy is currently celebrating the 150th Anniversary of the Unification of Italy. This Columbus Day seems to me, therefore, an extraordinary opportunity to revisit the roots of italy's cultural identity, to which Christopher Columbus achievementsand ideals gave an enormous contribution.
LINKS: Remarks on YouTube