This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
October is Italian Heritage Month!
Sam Pearson 10/9/2021 1:01 PM
Just in case anyone didnít know this is Italian heritage month. This month we Italian Americans expect to hear the Italian American national anthem as well as the Italian American pledge of allegiance at every sporting event.
Donít worry, you all know both:
As a reminder:
"I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
You see, we Americans of Italian descent are proud to be Americans. When we were starving in the 1870s, American ships brought us food and offered to allow us to come to The Promised Land. We came by the thousands to do the jobs no one else would do. We replaced the slaves as we picked cotton. We dug the sewer and pipelines. We did these to ensure that our families could eat. We learned English and when our new home went to war, we volunteered to protect and defend our new nation.
Growing up my Grandfather spoke of perhaps the most well-known Italian American to serve in World War II, John Basilone. John Basilone was a Marine Corps gunnery sergeant made famous for his actions during the Battle of Guadalcanal and the Battle of Iwo Jima.
Originally from New Jersey, Basilone served three years in the Army before enlisting in the Marine Corps. He was sent to Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands where, in October 1942, Basiloneís unit was attacked by the Japanese.
Sgt. Basilone commanded two sections of machine guns for two straight days until only he and two other Marines were left standing. Still, Basilone held his position and maintained steady fire against the approaching Japanese. As supplies ran low, Basilone fought through open ground, coming under enemy fire, to resupply the machine gunners with ammunition. By the end of the battle on the second day, Basilone was holding off the Japanese forces with nothing but his pistol and his machete.
Later, Basilone was present for the first day of the Battle of Iwo Jima. The Japanese, who were in a fortified blockhouse, fired on U.S. Marines as they landed on the island. Basiloneís unit was pinned down, so he headed out alone, making his way around the side of the Japanese position until he was directly on top of the blockhouse, which he single-handedly destroyed with grenades and demolitions. Then, he fought his way through open ground to safely guide a Marine tank through an enemy mine field, all while under fire. During this effort he was killed by Japanese mortar shrapnel.
Basilone became the only enlisted Marine to be awarded both the Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross for his extraordinary heroism in both battles, which secured the safety of his fellow Marines and the success of their mission.
Even Today, Americans of Italian descent volunteer to protect and defend our nation at a greater rate than any other group of Americans. In spite of only 2% of Americans joining the military, Americans of Italian descent volunteer at over 300% of the National Average.
In order to be fair, perhaps every month we should celebrate Italian heritage month as it is really American heritage as it is the American flag that waves over our homes and businesses!
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Sam Pearson is a retired Army Colonel with a variety of experience in both government and private sectors. As arguably one of the World's foremost military logisticians, he has been responsible for the on time delivery of supplies and services worth billions of dollars. After service in Southwest Asia, he was hand picked to support logistics operations in support of earthquake relief operations in Haiti. Pearson now serves as a consultant and volunteer mentor for students seeking their doctorates in advance statistical analysis.
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