The statue of Christopher Columbus that Black Lives Matter protesters tore down and threw into Baltimore’s Inner Harbor on July 4th was dedicated by President Ronald Reagan in October 1984 as a monument to the Italian-American community.
Americans of Italian descent have given a great deal to this country. Their contribution began 492 years ago when Christopher Columbus, the son of a Genoa weaver, set forth on a voyage of discovery that changed the world. The ideals which many successive Italian immigrants brought with them are at the very heart of America. I’m speaking of hard work, love of family, patriotism, and respect for God. [Applause] Thank you.
The optimism I sense here, this optimism is something I’ve felt all over this country. America has quit listening to the gloom-and-doomers. We’ve left self-doubt and pessimism aside. We’ve reclaimed our heritage, personified by individuals like Christopher Columbus.
America has always been a vision of opportunity, a place where an individual could, with hard work, go as far as his own talents or her own talents would take them. And a few years ago, there were those who said that this vision of opportunity and freedom was dead, that we were a nation in decline, that we should lower our expectations. Murderous inflation and economic stagnation were the order of the day.
When Columbus discovered America, he set in force a motion mightier than the world had ever known. People came here from every corner of the planet to be free and to improve their lot and that of their family. Well, we got off course a few years ago, but now we’ve set the good ship Columbia back sailing in the right direction. And I thank you for letting me be here to help you honor the man who started it all, Christopher Columbus.
Read the full speech here (courtesy of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library).
The statue appeared undefended by local law enforcement when it was torn down and smashed, to the delight of the frenzied crowd, which danced with pieces of the statute.