Norwich rededicates former Columbus statue as Italian Heritage Monument in Saturday ceremony

New London

NORWICH, Conn. (WTNH)– The Italian Heritage Monument in Norwich was rededicated during a ceremony on Saturday. Members of the city’s Italian community erected it 18 years ago, and now made changes to it after an uproar over Christopher Columbus, who was featured on it.

Those visiting Norwich’s Chelsea Parade got a little sneak peek at the changes made to the Italian Heritage Monument.

“We redesigned this statue or the monument, and taken the reference to Columbus off,” said Frank Manfredi, a member of the Italian Heritage and Cultural Committee of Norwich.

A relief of the explorer’s face was on the front of the obelisk and has now been replaced by a plaque featuring both the American and Italian flags, along with words expressing its original intent.

“The whole idea of this monument was Italian Heritage and honoring our parents,” said Manfredi.

The changes were made after protests emerged because of Christopher Columbus’ connection to the enslavement of indigenous people. Statues across the country were vandalized and removed but this still stands.

“We thought well we have to do something with this to solve the problem to say.. to honor our parents and to honor the wishes of other people,” said Frank Jacaruso, President of the Italian Heritage and Cultural Committee of Norwich.

Jacaruso’s parents are among the 400 Italian immigrants listed on the monument erected in 1992 and paid for by their children.

“It says ‘Onorate I Nostri Genitori’ which translated is ‘Honoring your parents’,” said Jacaruso.

There was also a reference to Christopher Columbus on one of the four benches, and that reference has also been removed.

It had said, ‘Dedicated to our Norwich Italian immigrants by the Columbus Monument Committee.’ It now reads, ‘Dedicated to all Norwich Italian immigrants.’

The monument was rededicated on Saturday at noon, where all 400 names were read.

“It will be a very simple ceremony, but I think it will be worthy of the people who are on the monument,” said Jacaruso.

“We want to be here to unite our community and not to divide it,” said Manfredi.

This monument may now be a symbol of that commitment to a diverse community too. 

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