Last October 31st saw the conclusion of Paradise by the River, a play by well-known Montreal playwright Vittorio Rossi which essentially tells the story of Italian Canadians being stripped of their rights and treated as traitors despite being recent immigrants. I was priveledged to see this play in 1998, and thus, because of reasons which will become apparent as this post progresses feel the need the emote my thoughts. The recent update of the play had a picture of eight P.O.W.s in the foyer of the theatre...The online community knows me as Optimusmastro, a strong, right of center, Catholic man, building a reputation for telling it like it is. My readership has come to accept this and will not stand for anything else. My real name is Marco Mastromonaco, and I am the grandson of P.O.W. 780,..aka Giovanni Mastromonaco, one of the eight men in that photograph. Ergo the reason, I did not see this play,..
Upon discovering a letter that my grandfather wrote to my grandmother dated Feb. 10th 1941, several emotions stirred in me. The first was one of curiosity, but then again, one can hardly quantify that as an emotion. The second was shame,.seeing my grandfather, whom I had never met, reduced to writing his 'prisoner of war' number as an identification. The third was anger. Why anger? Well,.we are supposed to be living in a country which is so unapologetically left of center, you'd have thought an apology would have been forthcoming. The letter written in broken english, shows my grandfather's love and concern for my grandmother along with his abiding Faith in God, that they will pull through. My grandmother at the time was pregnant, but the date the letter was written was a day after she had given birth,..the baby in question was my father,..the third child in a clan of eight.
I have always taken pride in my Italian heritage. I have been to Italy to see relatives, and speak italian reasonably well. Obviously due to assimilation, one day we will lose this language, yet we must never forget who we are and where we come from! I have always been proud of Canada as well and have always identified myself as a Canadian. This mark, this blemish has me to a certain degree, questioning (once again) humanity. Don't get me wrong, I understand, that when in a time of war, chances can't be taken, but a quick backround check, and some common sense could eliminate the possibility of a landscape gardener acting as a spy for a foreign government! The world, becoming the global village that it is, has forgotten certain facts. Today's context of 'terrorism' would by their flawed logic see all Arab/Muslims in P.O.W. camps. I think we could all imagine the protests...(please do not waste energy emailing me comparing the US's patriot act to this!!)
Call to action time! Any Canadians reading this, please help promote our cause by pressuring the Senate ratify Bill C-302, which would recognize the injustice that was done to persons of italian origin, and therefore will help in the knowledge and education of Italian Canadian history. I promise to blog again this week, I know it wasn't a fun post,..
St Michael the Archangel,........Ora pro nobis