On the anniversary of the tragedy of Marcinelle where 262 miners lost their lives, 136 of whom were Italians, we celebrate the “National day commemorating Italian workers around the world”, instituted by the Prime Minister in 2001 in memory of one of the most painful pages in the history of Italian emigration and labour.
Our intention is not only to recall and commemorate our fellow Italians who so tragically lost their lives on this day so many years ago in the Bois du Cazier mine, but also to pay tribute to all the Italian men and women who left their country and contributed, with their labour and sacrifice, to the development of both Italy and their respective host countries. Those Italians remain emblematic of all of those who, through manual or intellectual labour, contributed to edifying Italy’s image around the world and contributed concretely not only in terms of work, but also of thoughts and ideas, to their local societies.
I am referring to the pioneers of emigration who, with immense courage, set off from our country in search of a better future, often submitting to extreme hardship; and to new emigrants, who go off today under decidedly different circumstances but who remain united in that same desire for achievement and progress. Italians abroad, today as in the past, are a precious resource for the nation and a source of enhancement both for Italy and the countries where they reside. By celebrating the memory of Italian workers around the world, we therefore intend to pay tribute to all those deserving of recognition, along with my own respectful homage and warm thanks.