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THURSDAY, JANUARY 9, 2020 www.italoamericano.org L'Italo-Americano 2 T he slow, lengthy p a t h t h a n k s t o which the Trico- lore became, all o v e r I t a l y , t h e symbol of the unified State first, and of the Republic later, started on the 7th of January 1797, in Reggio Emilia. Through the centu- r i e s , o u r f l a g r e a f f i r m e d those values of freedom and d e m o c r a c y t h a t i n s p i r e d generations of Italians. If you visit Reggio's town hall today, you'll find an interesting exhibit about the history of our national flag, located just beside the Hall of the Tricolore where, more than two centuries ago, 100 MPs repre- senting the people of Bologna, Ferrara, Modena and Reggio Emilia signed the motion presented by scholar and constitutionalist Giuseppe Compagnoni, from Lugo, where the Cispadania flag was asked to be made universal and that "these three colors may be used also for a Cispadanian ribbon, which everyone should wear." Sources tell us the decision was met with a "most jubilant atmo- sphere," marked by the delegates' enthusiasm, and with "rounds of applauses." For the first time, cities from duchies that had been ene- mies for centuries identified themselves in one symbol and, again for the first time, the Tricolor was chosen as the official national flag of a sovereign State, finally free from its previous local military and civic meanings. With this decision, the Italian Flag gained an impor- tant political value and soon became the symbol of national unity and independence. The Green, White and Red were inspired by the French flag which, in those years, embodied a revolutionary ideal of freedom and change against the States of the Ancien Régime. In 1848, tricolored flags rose on barricades during the Cinque Giornate di Milano and King Carlo Alberto, before starting the First Italian War for Independence, adopted it, with its vertical green-white-red bands and the Savoia's coat of arms in the middle, as his kingdom's flag. In the same year, the ephemeral Kingdom of Sicily adopted the tricolor, adding a triskelion in its middle, and so did the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, which put the Hapsburg-Lorraine's coat of arms to it. The Recognizing each other in our common roots to be better Italians, never mind where we live From the director Roman Republic also chose it, personalizing it with the Mazzini- inspired statement "God and the People." In 1861 the Tricolor, with the Savoia's coat of arms, became the official flag of the Kingdom of Italy. When the Republic was born, the monarchy's symbol was abolished and the Tricolor, although with slightly different proportions, returned to its roots. When the Constituent Assembly defined the cardinal principles of the Italian Constitution (the text was approved on the 22nd of December 1947 and published on the Gazzetta Ufficiale on the 27th) it determined, in article 12, that the Tricolor was the official flag of the Republic. Since then, it has been the emblem of Italy's fundamental values: democracy, human rights, solidarity and social justice. True symbol of Italy, of its people and of Italianità all over the world, the Tricolore always characterizes us, in every place and con- text: from our Armed Forces' peace missions, to our diplomatic sees, from sports to artistic expressions. On the occasion of our flag's 223rd anniversary, the President of the Republic Sergio Mattarella said that: "it encapsulates ideals of unity and cohesion, it represents our values and national identity and constitutes an ideal link among all generations and all Italians and children of Italians living abroad. It is an essential patrimony that sti- mulates and exhorts us to carry on our path, characterized by inno- vation, progress, respect and prosperity, with renewed commitment and on the basis of common roots." Words we should follow verbatim not because spoken by our pre- sident but because, while entering the '20s of the new century, we should start with the right foot and make of the new year a true new beginning. We should, that is, consider it an occasion to think con- structively about the future of the country as Italians, as Italians abroad and as Italian-Americans. During his end-of-year speech, Mattarella offered us an intere- sting perspective on the matter. He said: "a while ago, I was gifted a photo of Italy taken from space. You can find plenty of them on the web, but this one in particular made me think, because it comes from an astronaut, now head of a friendly country. I'd like to share it with you (it shows Italy horizontally, without a North nor a South, just like a long strip of land filled with lights and surrounded by the sea, ndr). With a suggestion: let's try to look at Italy from outside, wide- ning our perspective. A bit like they see us abroad, like they see our beautiful country, stretched out in the Mediterranean, a geographical and historical meeting point between Europe and other continents. This condition contributed to the making of our identity, which is synonym of knowledge, creativity, harmony, humanity." The Tricolore is a symbol in which, by convention, education and learning, we identify ourselves. It sums up our Italianità and our familiar or elected roots. Italy itself is an often personalized geo- graphical dimension we carry within, wherever we go: we come from a region, a city or a village that is nothing more than a speck on the peninsula, but which, to us, is its very heart. To us, Italy is that beau- tiful space surrounded by green hills, it is mountains, it is a windy sea promenade. We are Italians also because, abroad, we choose to be and to identify ourselves as such. We should be proud of it: it is not a matter of nationalism, but of identity. We should always be proud of our origins, of our characteristics, of the linguistic and cultural diversity we carry within, in our very own DNA. But we should also learn how to look at us from a distance — from space, to say it with Mattarella — that is, from a different perspective lest we become sel- fish or self-centered: we are a piece of Italianità in the world, rightly proud of our incredibly rich culture, but alas with honors come also burdens, so we are aware of the many problems of a country and a people that must learn to love themselves more and to accept the way they are fully. This is why every one of us should feel important, called to do its part to protect, preserve and defend the patrimony we inherited. At the same time, we should also be advocates of pro- gress, full of enthusiasm and positivity to improve the world around. Just like Italians always do, both in and out the country's borders. Simone Schiavinato, Director NEWS & FEATURES TOP STORIES PEOPLE EVENTS

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