Military Celebrate Italian-American Culture at 70th Annual Columbus Day Parade in Chicago | Article
CHICAGO – The Great Lakes Navy Band, along with soldiers from the local Army Reserve, participated in the 70th annual Columbus Day Parade in Chicago with more than 150 units between floats, bands and marching units from various organizations and cultures.
“We are here on Columbus Day to celebrate the legacy of Columbus which shows the great diversity of America,” said parade marshal Lou Rago. “We have representatives from Poland, Mexico and the Dominican Republic. Columbus Day is for everyone.
While a range of cultural exhibits were represented, the parade provided an opportunity for Italian Americans to celebrate their heritage and contributions to the United States.
“My father emigrated here from Italy when he was seven,” said Army Reserve Lt. Col. Arturo Napolitano, commander of the 318th Theater Public Affairs Support Element, Arlington Heights, Illinois. “My grandfather wanted to be an army engineer. What I think about is the hard work of my father and my grandfather. I am proud of who we are, where we come from and the contributions we make to this country.
Soldiers from the 85th U.S. Army Reserve Support Command, also based in Arlington Heights, Illinois, provided color guard for the parade; Capt. Michael Ariola, Public Affairs Officer, 85th USARSC, with Napolitano served as Honorary Grand Marshal.
“It was an honor to represent the U.S. Army Reserve as Italian Americans in this year’s Columbus Day Parade celebrating Italian culture and the spirit of exploration,” said Ariola. “I’m a Chicago native and third generation Italian-American and this is my second time in the Columbus Day Parade in Chicago. It is a wonderful experience to interact with the Chicago community.
Army veteran Flavio Cipriani, a resident of North Riverside, Illinois, wore his old uniform with an American flag in his left pocket.
“I served from 1970 to 1972 in South Korea. I was a tank commander,” said Cipriani, who also trained Korean soldiers in American weapons while serving in the Korean Reinforcement Program. US Army (KATUSA).
“It’s nice to represent your own country and build a relationship with the rest of the community here in Chicago. It is very important to respect other communities.