America has her share of legitimate federal holidays. We rightfully celebrate our first President's birthday, a civil rights icon, our independence, soldiers who fought and died for our country, and even sprinkle in a couple blatantly religious holidays to boot. However, there is one holiday we as a nation should seriously reconsider if we are going to be honest about our true history.
We all know the story. In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue. He sailed for many days and many nights and 'found' the new world. How someone finds a new world that had millions of inhabitants on it is besides the point. According to the King of Spain he found it and, as any compassionate and righteous explorer would wont to do, enslaved its inhabitants and plundered their land of all of her natural resources. Columbus made three more voyages throughout the next ten years and effectively wiped out an entire race of people. What was his reward for this? Well, he was given his own Federal holiday!
Children are never taught these inconvenient facts in elementary school, but I believe it's imperative to teach history as it happened and not how we wish it to be. It's true that winners write the history books, but that doesn't mean we have to idolize a man we all know shouldn't be idolized. There are countless other explorers and indigenous people who have had a tremendous impact on the history of the New World that we can honor instead of Christopher Columbus and I feel the time is ripe to begin that transition.
So, what can we do to right this wrong we've created? For starters, we can do as Seattle and Minneapolis recently did and change the name of Columbus Day to Indigenous People's Day. North Dakota, California, Oregon, Nevada, and Hawaii don't observe it at all. And other states are likely to follow suit. Seeing states and localities take the initiative to correct the history books is a great first step, but it can not be the last.
It is wonderful that major cities and states are taking the lead, but if we are ever going to be able to move forward then we citizens must convince the Federal Government it is in our nations interest to do away with this holiday. The reason I feel this is important is not because I am ashamed of my country, but because I love my country and want to celebrate the positive aspects of American history. There is nothing we can do about the actions of a Spanish explorer over five hundred years ago, but that doesn't mean the Federal Government needs to place him on a pedestal.
Join me in contacting our national leaders and ask them to do what so many states have already done by changing this holiday. Find your congressman by clicking the link below and reach out to their offices. Then reach out to both of your Senators and let them know that you stand with millions of other Americans who are ready to celebrate the indigenous people who lived on this land for thousands of years.
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