Keep Columbus Day: Celebrate the good, learn from the bad.
Our history is filled with both good and bad. We must not bury the good in a rush to condemn the bad; we must learn from — not hide — the bad.
When we celebrate the best aspects of Columbus Day, we celebrate the American spirit of exploration, of discovery, of invention, that built this great nation. That spirit of the pioneer, the scout, the builder, the scientist; their courage, their endurance, their determination, their sacrifice. That spirit of togetherness that led our United States to declare independence, and that grew into the rights and freedoms that we still today strive to find for everyone.
Columbus Day also celebrates not just Italian heritage but the heritage of each of us who make up this richly diverse society.
We now know that Columbus himself was a tyrant, an abuser, and led the beginnings of a genocide of indigenous peoples that is a horrible stain on our history. He and others like him pursued conquest and exploitation for profit and power. He was not the first explorer to find America. Statues honoring the man have justifiably fallen.
Columbus, the man, is not a hero to celebrate. The holiday, bearing his name, celebrates a nation. And it reminds us of our history, and of our duty to honor and respect those wronged by our forebears.
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One fine body…