Celebrating A New World

 Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus set out to find a western route to China, India and the spice islands of Asia in 1492, financially backed by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. Instead of hitting the land he intended, Columbus landed in the Bahamas. A month later, the Italian explorer sighted Cuba and later Hispaniola, believing it to be China and Japan.

Columbus Day will be celebrated on Monday, Oct. 10, to commemorate the finding of the Americas by Christopher Columbus. Columbus Day was not officially celebrated until 1937 when Franklin D. Roosevelt made it a national holiday.

Despite the patriotic nature of the holiday, many Native Americans and other groups protest the holiday. They believe that it is wrong to celebrate Columbus’s discovery of the Americas because the event directly led to the death of millions.

This 1500 Juan de la Cosa map is the only cartographic work made by an eyewitness of the first voyages of Christopher Columbus to the Indies that has been preserved.
This 1500 Juan de la Cosa map is the only cartographic work made by an eyewitness of the first voyages of Christopher Columbus to the Indies that has been preserved.

Europeans brought diseases to the Americas, infecting the native people with small pox and influenza. Many Native Americans were also killed over land disputes with colonizers.

The annual Columbus Day Parade, the largest celebration of Italian-American culture, will be held in New York City on Oct. 10 on Fifth Avenue from 44th to 72nd streets. It will begin at 11:30 a.m. and last until 3 p.m. There will be 35,000 marchers and more than 100 groups of bands and floats. For more information contact 212-249-9923 or ccf@columbuscitizens.org.

In opposition to the parade on Oct. 10 there will be an Indigenous Peoples Celebration at Wards Meadow Field on Randall’s Island in New York City. With a sunrise ceremony beginning at 7 a.m., the event will last until 4 p.m. with music, song and spoken word. For more information call 718-686-9297 or go online to www.RedHawkCouncil.org.

Columbus Day has a different meaning to different people, whether that is celebrating the discovery of a new world or protesting the death caused by the colonization of America.

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Christina Claus
Christina Claus is the former editor of Port Washington News.

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