Columbus Day: Just Leave It Alone
Today is Columbus Day and while it’s one of the ten federal holidays in the United States it is probably considered the least important. While some 97% of companies offer Thanksgiving as a paid holiday only 14% do so for Columbus Day which is always the second Monday in October.
There will be no mail delivery today as the post office is closed and you might want to check with your bank to see if they are open. This used to be a day most schools were closed or used as a professional day for staff while students got the day off…I don’t know if that’s still the case. When it comes to most businesses it’s pretty much just another Monday.
The day itself was created to pay tribute to Christopher Columbus’ arrival in the Americas on October 12, 1492. It has become more than anything a way for Italian-Americans to celebrate their heritage but in what is indicative of the times we live in the holiday has fallen victim to revisionist history. Many states and cities in the U.S. either do not observe it at all or have replaced it with celebrations of indigenous people because a large number of historians have claimed that Columbus and other European explorers who followed mistreated Native Americans and did so badly.
I’m not smart enough to make an argument for or against Columbus but I do know this. To most Italians the day is really a celebration of their heritage much like the Irish treat St. Patrick’s Day and others mark ethnic holidays. It is an important one to those who use it to recognize the contributions of Americans of Italian descent and it should be left alone. So should the statues and monuments of the explorer and navigator, many of which have been torn down.
I guess history will treat Columbus as both good and evil, like many of the past.
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Gallery Credit: Shawn Michaels