POST-GAZETTE - Res Publica

Come Si Dice “Born on the Fourth of July” in Italiano?

by David Trumbull -- March 18, 2011

Memento of the 1994 Boston Visit of the Italian Aircraft Carrier Giuseppe Garibaldi.
On March 17, 2011, the Republic of Italy officially celebrated Italy's 150th Anniversary with a series of activities across the nation of Italy, in Washington, D.C., here in Boston, and throughout the United States, to highlight the unique partnership between Italy and the United States. As long-time allies, both nations share a common set of values, historical ties, and cultural relations that span multiple centuries.

Freshly back from a Washington trip, I decided to look into how our national government is honoring the birthday of modern united Italy. Here’s what I found—

Bills have been filed in both houses of congress (H.R.742 and S.369) to award posthumously a Congressional Gold Medal to Giuseppe Garibaldi and to Recognize the Republic of Italy on the 150th Anniversary of its Unification. As the legislative texts point out, America has many reasons to celebrate Garibaldi and the il Risorgimento (the Resurgence of a united Italian nation-state).

Giuseppe Garibaldi was born on the Fourth of July in 1807. In the early 1850s he lived in the United States and even applied for U.S. citizenship before returning to Italy as a commander in il Risorgimento that led to the unification of Italy. The Risorgimento's progress was eagerly followed in a United States ideologically opposed to European dynastic `tyranny'. The victory was viewed in this country as a powerful vindication of the right of the individual to political self-determination.

Giuseppe Garibaldi, who led Italy to unification in 1861, was offered a command as Major General in the Union Army by President Abraham Lincoln. Garibaldi declined, but to honor him, the 39th New York Infantry was known as `The Garibaldi Guard'. About 150 of its 850 men were Italian. It fought in the Union Army from Bull Run to Appomattox.

The sponsors in the House of Representatives are Republicans Michael Grimm and Peter King of New York, and Democrat Bill Pascrell of New Jersey. In the Senate Republican Michael Enzi of Wyoming is sponsoring the bill.

[David Trumbull is the chairman of the Boston Ward Three Republican Committee. Boston's Ward Three includes the North End, West End, part of Beacon Hill, downtown, waterfront, Chinatown, and part of the South End.]