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Did Columbus Really Discover America?

NEW YORK, NY – OCTOBER 08: Revelers march up Fifth Avenue during the annual Columbus Day Parade on October 8, 2012 in New York City. The Italian-American parade was launched in 1929 and is billed as the world?s largest celebration of Italian-American heritage featuring more than 35,000 participants. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Historical facts have shown that Christopher Columbus was not the first person to discover America. In fact, Columbus thought he had found an Atlantic route to Asia. Columbus landed on the islands of Cuba and Hispaniola convinced that these were the outer islands of China. It took another two voyages before he found the Central American coastline and realized that this was not China or the Asian continent.

Some Columbus Day History

Colorado was the first state to make Columbus Day an official holiday in 1906 and it became a federal holiday in 1937. Americans have celebrated some form of Columbus Day since the 300th anniversary in 1792. President Benjamin Harrison encouraged all Americans to celebrate the 400th anniversary.

In 1892, teachers, religious leaders, poets, and of course politicians, used Columbus Day to teach their specific ideologies. War, citizenship, loyalty to the nation, and social progress were the order of the day.

The Oldest and Biggest

The oldest continuously celebrated parade in honor of Columbus Day started in 1868 by Nicola Larco in San Francisco. The largest Columbus Day parade is held in New York City each year. Columbus Day is also celebrated in Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands where “Puerto Rico Friendship Day” occurs on the same day.

The state of Virginia also celebrates two holidays. Columbus Day and “Yorktown Victory Day,” named for the final victory at the “Siege of Yorktown” during the Revolutionary War are celebrated together.

Not Everyone Celebrates Columbus Day

Three US states, Hawaii, Alaska, and South Dakota don’t recognize Columbus Day at all. Hawaii celebrates “Discoverer’s Day,” commemorating Polynesian’s that discovered Hawaii on the same date. Neither holiday is treated as a legal holiday by businesses, schools or government offices. All remain open on that date.

South Dakota celebrates a local official state holiday known as “Native American Day.” Tribal governments in Oklahoma also use “Native American Day” or name the day after their specific tribe.

Iowa and Nevada do not celebrate Columbus Day as an official holiday. The Iowa state statutes “authorize and request” that the Governor proclaims the day a holiday each year. In Nevada they combine Columbus Day and Nevada Day because under their laws schools and banks can only be closed for a certain number of days.

California and Texas no longer consider Columbus Day as a paid holiday for government workers but still recognize the day as a legal holiday.

Political Correctness is alive and well in Berkley, California where Columbus Day has been replaced by the very politically incorrect, in my opinion, “Indigenous People’s Day,” since 1992. Many other cities have followed Berkley’s lead such as Sebastopol, Santa Cruz, and Dane County, Wisconsin.

Some Final Thoughts

Did Columbus really discover America? Is this holiday a respectful celebration of the contributions of Italian-American’s to our society? Should we just set aside a day to celebrate everyone like Berkley?

Let’s get right down to the bottom line. We set aside Columbus Day for one reason and one reason only. So customers will have a paid day off to attend the Columbus Day sales at retailer’s nationwide. Way ta go Chris. Let’s start the year-end feeding frenzy.

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