Columbus Day, Should It Be a Holiday?

Italian-American, Ms. Lange in front of Empire State Building on Columbus Day

Italian-American, Ms. Lange in front of Empire State Building on Columbus Day

Samantha Crowson, Reporter

“In fourteen hundred ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” This rhyme, known by just about every American, is about the great voyage across the sea on the Niña, the Pinta  and the Santa Maria, but what really happened on the fateful day of October 12th, when Christopher Columbus reached what he thought was India? Back in 1492, Columbus left Spain in search for India, except India was not where he set shore.  According to The Washington Post, “Columbus didn’t ‘discover’ America — he never set foot in North America. During four separate trips that started with the one in 1492, Columbus landed on various Caribbean islands that are now the Bahamas, as well as the island later called Hispaniola. He also explored the Central and South American coasts.”

That was just one of the many issues with Columbus Day. There is also the fact that you can’t really discover a land that has already been discovered, or can you?’s definition of discover is: gain sight or knowledge of (something previously unseen or unknown).  This could mean Columbus did actually discover America because it was technically “unknown to Spain”, or rather he did not “discover” the United States States of America, but South America for that matter.  So the questions still remains, why then do Americans celebrate the holiday?

In 1968, Congress added Columbus Day as an official public holiday, but only 21 states actually do anything for Columbus Day,  like closing banks, no mail deliveries, and even no school. However, in places like Arizona, school is not canceled but federal businesses are closed. Well why is that? There  is no real answer to that question honestly. Currently this year, TUSD had Fall Break on Columbus Day, but if it wasn’t, you can be sure we would have school.

Back when Christopher Columbus found “America”, he was the catalyst for a mass genocide of certain native American tribes, causing Native American Activist groups, along with others, to try and abolish Columbus Day or at least change its name, which in some states actually worked.  Instead of Columbus Day, South Dakota celebrates Native American Day, and in honor of the people who discovered the Hawaiian islands, they celebrate Discoverers’ Day in Hawaii. New York City on the other hand, has the world’s largest celebration of Italian-American culture, transforming Fifth Avenue.  They have 5,000 marchers with over 100 groups, including bands, floats and contingents  along with nearly one million spectators. With all that information what do you think: Should Columbus Day be celebrated, or should America celebrate something else?