June 22, 2018

Columbus Day

The second Monday in October is designated in the United States as Columbus Day. It commemorates Christopher Columbus’ first voyage and sighting of the Americas on October 12, 1492. However, Columbus Day, as a federal holiday was not officially recognized until 1937.

The first recorded ceremony commemorating Columbus in America occurred in 1792, 300 years after his famous first voyage. To honor Columbus, a ceremony was held in New York and a statue of Columbus was raised at Columbus Avenue in New York City.

A monument was dedicated to him in Baltimore, Maryland in 1892, and, at the “Columbus Exposition” held in Chicago that year, replicas of Columbus three ships were displayed.

113_Image04Some Americans celebrate the anniversary of their country with church services, and other activities, such as parades and large events.

There is controversy regarding the discovery of America by Columbus, since the first Europeans to sail across the Atlantic were Viking explorers from Scandinavia.

The land was already populated by indigenous peoples who had ‘discovered’ the Americas thousands of years before.

In 1992, many groups came out against celebrations celebrating the explorer.

Columbus had arrived in the Caribbean islands on his first voyage to the New World. He believed he had reached India and that the indigenous people he found there were Indians.

In a later voyage, he captured 1200 of these people and sent them to Europe as slaves. The Spanish who remained on the islands used the Taino people as forced labor, punishing them with torture/death if they resisted.

Adding these terrible acts to the unwitting passing of disease from Europeans to the Taino people would mean that the entire population of Hispanola was wiped out in forty three years. Many people cite this as the reason why Americans should not be celebrating Columbus’ accomplishments.

We as Americans can choose the way, time and method of celebration we desire on this day. We are thankful for our country and pray for the leadership of our great nation, united together that we may continue to be one nation under God indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.

Mary H. Lane

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