Should we celebrate “Christopher Columbus Day” or “Indigenous People’s Day”? Which do you prefer and why?
Part of me, as a child of the 70s indoctrinated to celebrate the Pilgrims and Columbus, clings to Columbus Day. My weak rationale for this is along the lines of this:
In a 1988 presidential proclamation, Reagan commemorates Columbus for his spirit: “He was a dreamer, a man of vision and courage, a man filled with hope for the future and with the determination to cast off for the unknown and sail into uncharted seas for the joy of finding whatever was there. Put it all together and you might say that Columbus was the inventor of the American dream.”
Far from a day to remember our divisions or to dwell on past wrongs, Columbus Day is a day to celebrate an American dream that values diversity, yes, but also rewards daring risk-takers. Or as Reagan put it, “not only an intrepid searcher but the dreams and opportunities that brought so many here after him.”
The other view, as articulated at HuffPo, is tinged with a multiculturalist liberal perspective; but not exactly inaccurate. In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue … and slaughtered the indigenous peoples he found. Is that all there is to know?
Opportunistic monster or heroic explorer? Why must it be either one or the other and not both?
My opinion on the matter has evolved somewhat since the last time I blogged over this “holiday”.
I’m open to FA readers to sway me to lean in either direction. Should we continue to honor Christopher Columbus Day? I’m partial to tradition; but it’s only been an American tradition since 1934 due to Italian community leaders and the Knights of Columbus. Not all traditions and ideas are a good thing, worth clinging to.
Officially, it’s still a government holiday; but one in which current clime and culture in American life do not seem to really follow and honor. Are there still parades in cities? What is being taught in our classrooms?
Whichever you prefer, happy federal holiday!
Presidential proclamation this year:
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
When Christopher Columbus — a son of Genoa, Italy — set sail across the Atlantic, no one could imagine the profound and lasting impact he would have on the world. In search of a westward route to Asia, he instead spotted the Bahamas. As dawn broke on October 12, 1492, Columbus’s crew set foot on a Caribbean island and changed the course of history. For much of Europe, this marked the discovery of the New World, and it set in motion the more than five centuries that have followed.
In a new world, explorers found opportunity. They endured unforgiving winters and early hardship. They pushed west across a continent, charting rivers and mountains, and expanded our understanding of the world as they embraced the principle of self-reliance.
In a new world, a history was written. It tells the story of an idea — that all women and men are created equal — and a people’s struggle to fulfill it. And it is a history shared by Native Americans, one marred with long and shameful chapters of violence, disease, and deprivation.
In a new world, a Nation was born. A resolute people fought for democracy, liberty, and freedom from tyranny. They secured fundamental rights to expression, petition, and free exercise of religion and built a beacon of hope to people everywhere who cherish these ideals.
Columbus’s historic voyage ushered in a new age, and since, the world has never been the same. His journey opened the door for generations of Italian immigrants who followed his path across an ocean in pursuit of the promise of America. Like Columbus, these immigrants and their descendants have shaped the place where they landed. Italian Americans have enriched our culture and strengthened our country. They have served with honor and distinction in our Armed Forces, and today, they embrace their rich heritage as leaders in our communities and pioneers of industry.
On Columbus Day, we reflect on the moment the world changed. And as we recognize the influence of Christopher Columbus, we also pay tribute to the legacy of Native Americans and our Government’s commitment to strengthening their tribal sovereignty. We celebrate the long history of the American continents and the contributions of a diverse people, including those who have always called this land their home and those who crossed an ocean and risked their lives to do so. With the same sense of exploration, we boldly pursue new frontiers of space, medicine, and technology and dare to change our world once more.
In commemoration of Christopher Columbus’s historic voyage 522 years ago, the Congress, by joint resolution of April 30, 1934, and modified in 1968 (36 U.S.C. 107), as amended, has requested the President proclaim the second Monday of October of each year as “Columbus Day.”
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim October 13, 2014, as Columbus Day. I call upon the people of the United States to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities. I also direct that the flag of the United States be displayed on all public buildings on the appointed day in honor of our diverse history and all who have contributed to shaping this Nation.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this tenth day of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-ninth.