New Jersey State Senator Joe Pennacchio (R-26) released the following statement in reaction to a published report of the launch of an online petition seeking the removal of the Christopher Columbus monument in Parsippany.
A bust of Columbus was installed on a granite base on Parsippany Boulevard in 1992 to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Italian explorer landing in the Americas.
“Our nation is facing an extremely difficult period and efforts are being made across the board to ensure we come out of this stronger, more unified and more inclusive of people of all ages, colors and origins.
“For better or worse, the past is permanent. It is our future that is a blank canvas that will be crafted through the shared vision of varied interests contributing common goals, priorities, and dreams.
“Recently a statue of Abraham Lincoln was defaced in Massachusetts. In England, a statue of Winston Churchill was damaged. In Washington D.C., a monument to the all-Black 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry regiment was defaced. To add to these misguided attempts of historical revision is just wrong.
“Italian Americans take pride in their heritage and in the countless successes and contributions they have made in America. Alongside all Americans they built, fought and died for this country. To have a statue of Columbus displayed in our community is symbolic of how proud we are of those contributions.
“With few exceptions, every political leader has shared in that pride, marching in annual Columbus Day parades and participating in memorial recognitions. His landing in the new world was an existential moment in human history. It created a bridge from the old world to the new.
“Instead of trying to erase and re-write history we should focus on challenging ourselves to create a better history for ourselves and our future generations.”