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About Columbus and us: Italians deserve a better hero

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In 1906, Michela Marciano was just a teenager when she fled her village in southern Italy as Mt. Vesuvius exploded in the worst eruption since Pompeii 2,000 years earlier. She survived a catastrophic event that killed 500 people and left 150,000 homeless. During the week in which ash covered the sun, she somehow managed to board a ship to New York, only to die five years later hunched over a sewing machine on the ninth floor of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. Like so many Italian immigrants, she spent her short life doing backbreaking work under deplorable conditions for barely any money. Still, she managed to send back $200 to her parents, while joining the union that would go on to revolutionize labor rights in America.

You won’t find a statue of Marciano anywhere, but she’s more of an Italian-American hero than the man who stands in Columbus Circle. Christopher Columbus, an explorer from Genoa — then a city in a collection of states later defined as “Italy” 300 years after his birth — sailed to the new world with the backing of the Spanish crown. He barely stepped foot in North America before raiding the Caribbean of its resources........

© NY Daily News