07 October 2007

Happy Columbus Day

On September 6, 1492, an explorer named Christopher Columbus, along with ninety sailors, departed from the island of La Gomera on three ships. These ships included one carrack named Santa Maria, and two caravels named Nina, and Pinta. They went in search of an alternate route to what was then known as the Far East. This alternate route was going to be used primarily for trade, since more hostile countries had control over the land based trade routes to the Orient, known as the Silk Road. There were no intentions to start a new Crusade, or to exterminate the heathen locality.

One October 12, 1492, at 2:00 AM, land was sighted by a sailor named Rodrigo de Triana. Columbus later named the land, which was an island, San Salvador. Though the Columbus expedition was not the first European expedition to reach the Americas, it did lead to extensive interaction between the peoples of the Old World, and the New World. This eventually led to the establishment of the European Colonies, a group of which evolved into this great country of ours.

In 1792, the first Columbus Day was celebrated in New York City, marking the 300th anniversary of the voyage. In 1892, President Benjamin Harrison called upon the nation to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the voyage. In 1937, Franklin Delano Roosevelt set Columbus Day aside as a Federal Holiday.

Was Christopher Columbus responsible for the "genocide" of native Americans? No. He was an explorer. What was done with his discovery was solely on us. But please remember that some good came from his voyage. It demonstrated human persistence. Others would have picked up after him if he failed to complete his voyage, but his persistence earned him a place in our history. His voyage enabled others who were stuck under the yoke of European tyranny to have a new beginning. His voyage led to the eventual creation of entire nations, including the United States. Yes, native Americans were conquered by the Europeans. The Irish were conquered by the English. The Gauls were conquered by the Romans. The Manchus were conquered by the Chins. The Canaanites were conquered by the Israelites. Lots of people were conquered in human history. Let us get over this.

Let Columbus have his day.

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