Columbus Day is celebrated in the United States as a Federal Holiday honoring not only Christopher Columbus but the Italian heritage of Italian Americans. It is celebrated on the second Monday in October, Federal and State Offices are closed as well as Banks in this 'national' celebration. The same holds for March 17th, Saint Patrick's Day, where "everyone is Irish" for the day, celebrating the heritage of Irish Americans. We, as Americans, have a federal holiday for Martin Luther King Day celebrating the works of Mr. King and his contributions toward equality. I can go on about the Holidays and their associated dates, but I think you get the idea.
This past Columbus Day, October.12, 2009, however there was a difference. And, before I get to that difference let me be very clear about the subject of racism/discrimination as it pertains to me, as an individual. It is without question that my 'family' of associates and friends crosses more ethnic lines (than anyone I'm aware of) from 'Black' to 'Yellow' to 'Brown,' multiple continents, four to be exact, without a single ounce of prejudice as I respect not only individual races, colors, and creeds but also the special days, and the special people that are so represented by each.
So.....back to Columbus Day this past October 12th and Monday Night Football and the NFL's presentation of the Latino Night, the Latino Culture and recognition of Latin NFL players on Columbus Day. Before writing this blog I had a conversation with one of my Italian American Friends and discussed this obvious 'slight' toward Italians; to which his reply was... "the NFL/ESPN knew that 'not a whisper' would be coming forth from the Italians, unlike other races who would cause major disruptions throughout the United States and cause 'their' leaders to perch upon the pedestals of NBC and have the NFL make a personal apology, whereas nothing would be forthcoming from the Italian-American community." I'm unfortunately inclined to believe my friend.
On a day when the NFL could have honored Italian Americans, NFL Players-Coaches-Owners, active and past, like Brian Griese, Vinny Testaverde, Travis Henry, Greg Camarillo, Bobby Sippio, Anthony Fasano, Liro Luoto, Jason Fabini, Chris Naeole, Dominic Raiola, Alan Faneca, Richie Incognito, Mike Devito Ryan Boschetti, Ryan LaCasse, Tedy Bruschi, John DeGiorgio, Vinny Ciurciu, Jon Abbate, Ray Ventrone, Matt Giordano, Jon Corto, Sabby Piscatelli, Adam Vinatieri, Mike D'Antoni, Steve Mariucci, Joe Montana, Dan Marino, Alan Ameche, Joe Bellino, Stephen Bisciotti, Nick Buoniconti, Gino Cappelletti, Edward J. DeBartolo Jr., Joe Flacco, Franco Harris, Vince Lombardi, Gino Machetti, Ed Marinaro, Bill Parcells, Dick Vermeil TO NAME A FEW, they decided to honor Latins, since it was Latino month.
This celebration could have been on any other day within October, but not on Columbus Day. The heritage of Italians in America is one of honor, respect, and hard work. There are no Federal or State Laws written for the protection of Italians in this country. This great nation hasn't spent a single dime on Italians, as a nationality, yet has progressed as a nation due to Italian American perseverance and hard work produced over the centuries. One would think that on one day of the year ESPN or the NFL and even the President of the United States (who gave a media presentation at half-time via satellite ) would have had better sense and judgement.
I wonder what would have happened if Monday Night Football and recognition of Latino Day would have been played on the Third Monday of January.