WASHINGTON -- Autumn in New York -- that sound like the title of a song! In fact, it sounds like the first line of a song, and so it is. Autumn is a lovely time of year in many places, but for me my favorite place at this time of year is New York City. As the song goes, it seems "so inviting." And one of the great events marking autumn in New York is the Columbus Day Parade. It reminds us of what a great melting pot it has been, and, one hopes, it always will be.
Christopher Columbus opened the New World to European migration in 1492. He prefigured the spirit of America with his daring, his sense of duty and his piety. Samuel Eliot Morison, in the second volume of his two-volume history, "The European Discovery of America," portrayed Columbus as a truly heroic figure, an exemplary captain of the ocean waves, to introduce us all to the admirable adventure that America has proved to be. 68 years ago, the Italian-Americans in New York City's Columbus Citizens Foundation gave Columbus a fitting memorial in the Columbus Day Parade, and this year on October 8, once again all Americans can come out to honor him and share in the glory that is the American melting pot.
There will be 35,000 marchers representing over one hundred groups. Almost a million people will be spectators as the parade makes its way down Fifth Avenue. It will be a great day to be an Italian-American, and by sundown there will be a little bit of Italy in all of us: pasta, frutti di mare, and a glass of vino, possibly two. The Italians made their contribution to the American melting pot, and we are all grateful for their contributions: cooking, style and their innovations in such areas as the arts, the building trades and investment banking. This year the Columbus Citizens Foundation is honoring the philanthropist and investment innovator, Mario J. Gabelli, as the 68th annual parade's Grand Marshal. He has been one of the good guys in banking for years, and his philanthropy in education, health, and community service only emphasize it.