Monday, October 14, 2013

But Do You Have A Flag?

Columbus Day is almost over and it really made no difference to me. The only thing that I noticed was the fact that I couldn’t get a hold of everyone I normally would on a Monday. You couldn’t even take your cue from the government because they were closed already.

When you think about it and consider all that we have learned about Columbus over the years it makes you question why we even still have such a day. I personally think that it’s a difficult argument saying that you discovered a new world when there were people there to greet you. That’s like discovering a cabin in the woods that no one knew about, that wasn’t on any maps, knocking on their door and claiming the land as your own (if you survive of course).

To give you a little background, and save your finger from having to hit another button, here is the basic rundown from Wikipedia:

Many countries in the New World and elsewhere celebrate the anniversary of Christopher Columbus' arrival in the Americas, which happened on October 12, 1492, as an official holiday… Columbus Day first became an official state holiday in Colorado in 1906, and became a federal holiday in the United States in 1937, though people have celebrated Columbus' voyage since the colonial period. In 1792, New York City and other U.S. cities celebrated the 300th anniversary of his landing in the New World. President Benjamin Harrison called upon the people of the United States to celebrate Columbus Day on the 400th anniversary of the event. During the four hundredth anniversary in 1892, teachers, preachers, poets and politicians used Columbus Day rituals to teach ideals of patriotism. These patriotic rituals were framed around themes such as support for war, citizenship boundaries, the importance of loyalty to the nation, and celebrating social progress.

Many Italian-Americans observe Columbus Day as a celebration of their heritage, the first occasion being in New York City on October 12, 1866. Columbus Day was first enshrined as a legal holiday in the United States through the lobbying of Angelo Noce, a first generation Italian, in Denver. The first statewide Columbus Day holiday was proclaimed by Colorado governor Jesse F. McDonald in 1905, and it was made a statutory holiday in 1907. In April 1934, as a result of lobbying by the Knights of Columbus, Congress and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt made October 12 a federal holiday under the name Columbus Day.

Since 1970, the holiday has been fixed to the second Monday in October, coincidentally the same day as Thanksgiving in neighboring Canada (which was fixed to that date in 1959) (note that October 12, 1970, was a Monday). It is generally observed nowadays by banks, the bond market, the U.S. Postal Service, other federal agencies, most state government offices, many businesses, and most school districts. Some businesses and some stock exchanges remain open, also some states and municipalities abstain from observing the holiday. The traditional date of the holiday also adjoins the anniversary of the United States Navy (founded October 13, 1775), and thus both occasions are customarily observed by the Navy (and usually the Marine Corps as well) with either a 72 or 96-hour liberty period.

Today seems to epitomize the fact that, given time, people’s shortcomings are frequently overlooked and their feats accentuated by historical storytelling. Truth be told, Columbus was a man who got lost on a voyage, the Gilligan of the 15th century if you will, who, once he was given power, proved to be a tyrannical ruler and proponent of genocide. So, happy Columbus day everyone!