Where Would We Be Without Them?
David Freund, Chief Leadership Officer
On the corner of 3rd and Highland Streets on the North Side of Syracuse, you will find a large monument erected in 1911 to celebrate the German heritage within Syracuse’s population. The Goethe-Schiller Monument is a double statue of German poets Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Fredrich Schiller. This monument is one of four identical monuments in the United States. The other three are in San Francisco, Milwaukee, and Cleveland.
The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw increasing ethnic diversity in Syracuse. Neighborhoods allowed new immigrants to the United States to settle with those who shared their ethnic backgrounds. The Germans and the Italians settled on the North Side of the City. The Irish, Polish, and Ukrainians settled on the West Side, commonly known as Tipperary Hill. To this day, any visitor to Tipp Hill can see the only traffic light in America with the green lens on top. The Tipperary Hill Heritage Memorial – Stonethrowers Monument stands proudly on the corner honoring the seven youths who continually broke the red lens until the City agreed to put the green lens on top.
Hard-working people left the land of their birth for opportunity in this relatively new country. Hardships in their homelands became a blessing for Syracuse, as the diversity of culture was celebrated and helped create the City we all love. As a child, my parents would take me to the War Memorial to an event called The Festival of Nations. We would spend a few hours walking from booth to booth, seeing the variety of dress and sampling ethnic foods. Today, we have events like the Italian Fest, Oktober Fest, and more to experience our cultural diversity.
In more recent years, we have seen emigrants longing for peace and freedom from former Eastern Block countries, the Middle East, and Africa. Whenever and wherever they come from, they bring hope for a better future, a desire for peace and freedom, and the beauty of ethnic diversity. As leaders, we need to help connect our companies’ visions and missions with the visions our new residents have for their future. Let’s never forget to make all of them feel welcome and enjoy how much richer our region is because of them. I can’t imagine where we would be without them.
As leaders, we must recognize and celebrate the diverse cultural heritage among our workforce. MACNY member companies such as Stickley Furniture and Chobani have found ways to make their employees feel welcome as they pursue their American dream.
If you would like to hear more about the ethnic diversity in Syracuse and the blessings immigrants bring to our lives, please join Marisa Norcross and me on Episode 194 of The Next Page Podcast.