Why Columbus Day Matters........October 13, 2014
October 13, 2014

All parades are tribal, and all parades look back.

See how far we’ve come, they say.
Better parades look forward, too.
This is where we’re going now.

But the best parades reach out to others, raising a banner for universal values of goodwill, aiming in some small way to heal the world.

Such a parade is walking down State Street in Chicago on this Monday, kicking off at 12:30 p.m. The theme of this year’s Columbus Day Parade is the brave effort by thousands of Italians during the Nazi era to save Jews from the horror of the Holocaust.

In a world beset by new forms of terror today, such as Ebola and ISIS, Chicago’s Italian-American parade is sending a powerful message. History demands that we do what is right, not what is safe.

Not a single Jew of any national origin under Italian control was handed over to Germany until 1943 when Italy was invaded by the Nazis. And, as journalist Jonah Goldberg has noted, “Jews in Italy survived the war at a higher rate than anywhere under Axis rule save Denmark.”

Floats in the parade will honor Italians — individuals and whole towns — who risked their lives for their fellow man.

There was Giorgio Perlasca, an Italian businessman in Budapest, who is credited with saving as many as 10,000 Jewish lives by impersonating the Spanish ambassador to Hungary. He granted Spanish citizenship to thousands of Jews.

There was Giovanni Palatucci, police chief in the port city of Fiume, into which thousands of Jewish refugees poured. He arranged transfers to Southern Italy and safe passages to Palestine. He issued false papers to hundreds of Jews who lived in the city.

There was Gen. Giuseppe Amica, commander of an Italian Army division in Yugoslavia, who refused to deport 140 Jews under his control. He said it would not be honorable. The Nazis shot him.

Monday’s parade will honor these good Italians and so many more — mensches all.

Mensch is a Yiddish word meaning a principled person who does what is right.

Our world can never have too many.

(Source - Chicago Sun Times Editorial 10/13/2014)