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Do you think we should celebrate Columbus Day?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on October 5, 2007

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Photo of Katie Kruse

“I think it’s pretty ridiculous at this point, knowing what we know about him.”

Photo of John Smithies

“I think so. It’s important to give him recognition for his accomplishments. He’s an important historical figure to America and the world.”

Photo of Megan Reardon

“By no means should we take off work for it. If people want to celebrate it, I wouldn’t stop them. But I don’t think of it as a worthwhile holiday.”

Photo of Brett Thomas

“I think he is worth remembering as a historical figure, but I think it’s also important to take into account the hardships and suffering he brought to the native people and how it affected their lives.”


Sigmund 10 years, 8 months ago

National Breast Appreciation Day beats the socks off of Columbus Day in my book.

number3of5 10 years, 8 months ago

warthog has a very interesting story. It made me laugh, and we all could use more laughter in our lives. Thanks

Topside 10 years, 8 months ago

Preach on consumer1

Columbus is definitely worthy of a holiday. So why am I working.....?

sgtwolverine 10 years, 8 months ago

Woohoo! Grand Rapids!

I think we should celebrate Columbus Day by reading a banned book about Columbus.

canyon_wren 10 years, 8 months ago

What a bunch of baloney some of these posts are! Just another example of how Political Correctness is infiltrating our society. Columbus did an amazing thing and even though he may not have actually set foot on our land, he did pave the way for other exploration. This crap about the poor natives being exploited is so ridiculous. I suspect that there are few of them who would prefer to do without the various medical and other improvements that our society has enjoys today--many of which THEY have helped to develop. It is so embarrassing to have "mature" (?) people spout that kind of drivel about the poor exploited natives that Columbus "spoiled life" for. Get real, folks--this is the 21st century. It is what we do NOW for and with each other that matters, not some deal that happened so long ago. Get past it!

I do think for those with that mindset, it would be reasonable to change the name of the holiday to something like "Explorers' Day" to celebrate the efforts of ALL the early day explorers

As for taking time off for it, Consumer1 is right--when Megan has to work for a living, she will be grateful for any holiday that comes along!

jonas 10 years, 8 months ago

I was thinking, myself, that Colonialization and Exploitation Day sounded pretty good. To celebrate, I suggest that we all climb the fence into the neighbors yard, set up a tent and a grill, and eat burgers and drink beer all day. If they have any vegetables growing in a garden, take them as sides for your burgers!

kcwarpony 10 years, 8 months ago

Celebrating Columbus Day in the States has never made sense to me. He never set foot in North America! The first European explorer to document his visit to North America (eastern Canada and possibly Maine) was the Italian explorer Giovanni Caboto, a.k.a. John Cabot. Cabot arrived in 1497 (June 24th?) and claimed North America for the English.

Why not John Cabot Day? Or Giovanni Caboto Day??

warthog 10 years, 8 months ago

Actually, an ancestor of mine, Gilligan Vespuccio Jones, was the first European to set foot on the soil of the new world. It was a freakish accident, really. He, along with his captain, was conducting a fishing expedition for some mideastern tourists when a horrible storm blew them off course and before landing somewhere near the Jersey shore. They were stranded here for years, before managing to rebuild their ship with the help of some friendly natives. Upon returning to Europe, their story was met with much skepticism, and they were all written off as kooks, since everyone knew that if they had really tried to go that far, they would have fallen off the edge of the earth.

So I vote we change the day to Gilligan Day, because Columbus bumbled his way across the ocean much as Gilligan did.

canyon_wren 10 years, 8 months ago

blue73harley--you are right--I WAS reacting to the folks on the street, and to some who responded to the article itself. The posters' comments here were pretty cute! I apologize!

trinity 10 years, 8 months ago

hah, SING IT consumer 1!!!! :D i was going to chastize ms. megan myself, over her inane remark.

as a state employee, i CELEBRATE columbus&all other holidays that give me a 3-day weekend! woohoo!

friday friday friDAY friday friday friDAY friday friday friDAYYYYYYYYYY! :D

Cait McKnelly 10 years, 8 months ago

Heh only government flunkies and those that support them get Columbus Day off to begin with. Even the schools aren't on holiday. Some merit could be granted for Columbus Day being an "Italian Pride" day but if they're going to grant official gummint status to it then they need to make St. Patrick's Day a holiday too along with St. Olaf's Day (Norway) and St. Bridget's Day (Sweden). Oh and let's not forget St. Theodule (Liechtenstein). Then we would have to have something for Germans, Austrians and Russians. I wouldn't mind having Oktoberfest being an official holiday of German heritage pride (yay for gummint sanctioned beer drinking!) Y'know what? We keep this up and every day will be a gummint holiday and we can just party all the time!

gogoplata 10 years, 8 months ago

Get rid of it. Who really cares anyway.

coolmarv 10 years, 8 months ago

I do think that Columbus Day has used up its time, knowing what we know today. Urk Day works for me although an ancestor of mine was actually here before Urk.

Do you think the 1.7 million members of the Knights of Columbus should change their name? The Knights of Urk. How about Columbus, Ohio? Urk, Ohio.

sunflower_sue 10 years, 8 months ago

If Ron Howard's little brother is the love child of Gor and Gur...I so get it now!

coolmom 10 years, 8 months ago

even the indians "explored" and pushed other tribes away and it was all started by Gor and Gur. they should be reviled throughout time. it could be revile day instead...

trinity 10 years, 8 months ago

and no more zug zug on company time! hmpph!

fridaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy! :D

jonas 10 years, 8 months ago

canyon-wren: C'mon, are you THAT naive to think that Columbus was doing what he was doing, and that the royalty of Spain was sponsoring him, for a reason other than exploitation? That's what colonial exploration was! Get some backing to go further in a hunt for precious resources to further personal or national wealth. If you think simply calling it what it is is PC, I don't think you've studied the issue of expansion and colonization enough to comment with such a derisive tone. As for it being a long time ago, I guess I'm going to have to quote Bill Hicks.

"If that's the way you think, then don't bring up Jesus to me. It was a long time ago! Forget about it."

jonas 10 years, 8 months ago

Oh, and no one here knows whether or not Megan has a job or not. To say that, since she is a KU student, she must not have a job is rather prejudiced and assumptive, don't you think?

canyon_wren 10 years, 8 months ago

jonas--I never said that exploration was not a form of exploitation. But that was how the world operated then. It is like rewriting history to judge it by our "enlightened" standards of today. And of course that is what a lot of people would like to do ( Orwell's "1984" all over again!). My complaint was against people who insist upon constantly bringing up old mistakes not made by those living today. Surely we can learn from them, but we must "move on"--and I still can't help but get irritated with those who seem preoccupied with disparaging anyone and everyone we have considered "worthy" in the past.

I wouldn't touch your "Jesus" comment with a ten-foot pole! There is enough on the OTS plate today without getting into THAT! But your need to inject that says a lot about you to me!

canyon_wren 10 years, 8 months ago

As far as whether or not Megan has a job, I worked 30+ hours a week when I attended KU, but never really thought that much either way about holidays till I was in the daily 9-5 grind. That makes a lot of difference--you really appreciate a day off then!

Flap Doodle 10 years, 8 months ago

We need a national day of shame. For 24 hours, we can all abstain from using any product or technology that was invented or improved by the White Devils.

matahari 10 years, 8 months ago

haha, snap, that was great! Rarely a peep excapes me when I am reading this stuff online, but you, today take the cake! of shame! gotta love it!

conservativepunker 10 years, 8 months ago

Yes. I am so sick of overt political correctness. C'mon people, sticks and stones!!!!! Jeez. Grow up. Quit whining. Do I get upset on Armistice or V-E day when people discuss the Allies defeat of Germany, just because I'm of German heritage? Nope. I consider my self an American. Stuff like this is why I left the Democratic Party and stopped being Liberal in my views.

black_butterfly 10 years, 8 months ago

Columbus day should not be celebrated. He did not discover america, he INVADED it. Why celebrate that? Enough said.

Steve Mechels 10 years, 8 months ago

"trinity (Anonymous) says:

hah, SING IT consumer 1!!!! :D i was going to chastize ms. megan myself, over her inane remark.

as a state employee, i celebrate columbus&all other holidays that give me a 3-day weekend! woohoo!

friday friday friDAY friday friday friDAY friday friday fridayyyyyyyyyy! :d"

Just to clarify for everyone, Columbus Day is not a State holiday for State employees.

Grundoon Luna 10 years, 8 months ago

Wren, if you want peopel to stop "rewriting history to judge it by our 'enlightened' standards of today," then people need to stop perpeturating the wonderfulness of of what he didn't really do. Stop all the BS.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 10 years, 8 months ago

Wren speaks from an uninformed position.

"This crap about the poor natives being exploited is so ridiculous. I suspect that there are few of them who would prefer to do without the various medical and other improvements that our society has enjoys today..."

Entire cultures were wiped out by the european invaders. You don't think that matters? I guess now blacks should be OK with slavery because things over here are so much better than in those mud huts.

Columbus didn't discover the new world. Hundreds of native tribes were already aware of the new world. The Europeans are lucky the North American natives didn't make boats, invent rifles and "discover Europe" on their asses.

yourworstnightmare 10 years, 8 months ago

I suppose it is similar to celebrating "Oliver Cromwell Day" in England. He was an important historical figure, no doubt.

Having said that, I am sure there are some in England and Northern Ireland who would be happy to see such a day celebrated.

trinity 10 years, 8 months ago

ok then smartypants, why is columbus day listed as a regular holiday on this sweet lil' piece of paper i get every year naming each holiday???

oh well puttin' the pointyfinger right back at's on the judicial branch administrative calendar!

yippeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! :)

canyon_wren 10 years, 8 months ago

Oldenuf--I always appreciate your comments which are really reasonable.

I didn't mean to give the impression that I don't think the natives were exploited. I just meant that always referring to the "bad things done in the past" (especially since it is always the "whites"who have done them--no one mentions the atrocities of various Native American tribes against each other, or the Africans who made big business out of selling "their own people"--whom THEY didn't consider as such-- into slavery) is a dead end and gets pretty tiresome. And I would imagine that most African-Americans of the present day would choose living in America over STILL living in mud huts as many do. Don't read anything extra into my comments. I can get into enough trouble with them as they stand!

jonas 10 years, 8 months ago

Rewriting history by our standards? As I said, those arguing about exploitation are the ones refusing to rewrite history. Those saying to smooth over the past atrocities committed in the name of the spreading of western wealth, influence and culture, in the name of celebration of some fictitious idea of what it could be like it, wouldn't you call that rewriting history?

I don't see why my Jesus quote should say anything about myself. In lines of this conversation, my point was merely that we can be somewhat arbitrary in past traditions worthy of being held on to and thought about, and ones that we should (paraphrase) "just let go of, dammit!" It's been my experience that which one is which depends rather a lot on how much discomfort the perceived truth of the matter brings to the one making the judgment call. I have no problem with remembering Jesus or talking about him, he was a highly influential man that had some powerful and wonderful things to say. I have no problem with remembering that Western powers explored the planet, colonizing and subjugating many local populaces in the name of the national treasury. And it wasn't that long ago, in many cases. It's been less than 200 years since the West, for instance, dropped billions of cases of Opium on China (a product illegal in the countries of most of the merchants doing the trading) addicting large swathes of the population in order to redress a perceived "trade imbalance" (i.e. Britain wanted tea, and China didn't want any of Britain's products, so Britain had to actually pay cash money for them, gasp!)

I think, in this age of increasing globalization, the ethnocentric and utterly racist tendencies of most of the explorers and colonizers are an incredibly relevant lesson. If we sign on to this idea of the nobility and beauty of the explorers and of exploration, we'll just end up doing it again (see: company using cheap foreign labor to save extra costs). I think the weaker populations we might oppress or otherwise screw over might appreciate us taking the time to actually think these things through.

jonas 10 years, 8 months ago

hmmm. . . I didn't know I cared this much about this issue. self-revelations!

mom_of_three 10 years, 8 months ago

Nope, not a holiday for me, a state employee.
Columbus is credited for discovering America. So that equals a holiday? I don't get it. Next, there should be an uproar about Lincoln's birthday, because he really wasn't as great as some think.

Steve Mechels 10 years, 8 months ago

"ok then smartypants, why is columbus day listed as a regular holiday on this sweet lil' piece of paper i get every year naming each holiday???

oh well puttin' the pointyfinger right back at me:it's on the judicial branch administrative calendar!

yippeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! :)" ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ My bad; I didn't realize that Judicial and Executive branch employees have different holidays. I learn something everyday. Enjoy!

canyon_wren 10 years, 8 months ago

consumer1--you're right about the "whites." The same thing bugs me about lumping all "Native Americans" together. It seems likely to me that Navajos, for example, don't feel a real sense of kinship to Seminoles, etc., and it is patronizing to refuse to acknowledge their uniqueness by calling them by their specific tribal names.

I also think that we should be having National Czechoslovakian Week (Month?) or National Greek Month, etc., etc., to honor all the various other wonderful categories in our melting pot. Who knows, we might come up with 365 federal holidays! Wouldn't that be fun?

That's all from me for today--got to get out and do some concentrated weeding.

sunflower_sue 10 years, 8 months ago

How about Happy "Melting Pot Day!" but...I Don't Care! Ceal, that was truly touching! Friday, Friday, FriDAY!!!

Ceallach 10 years, 8 months ago

Happy Melting Pot Day! (it's still FRIday and I still don't care bwahahahahahaha)

FriDAY, FrIDay, FRIday!!! PayDay, PAYday, PayDAY!!!

ms_canada 10 years, 8 months ago

I had this letter all typed out earlier and something happened to it. I'll try again. I said that I liked this opinion forum because of the things I learn about your country and things I can pass on to you guys about mine. Regarding holidays, we have 10 national holidays that every employer must give his employees. These are paid holidays. Plus each province has a few more. Alberta has Family Day in Feb. and Heritage Day in Aug. I thought it would be a good thing for you guys to change your Columbus Day to Heritage Day. Each person could celebrate it in his own way according to his own culture. Our Heritage day in Edmonton is great with a huge celebration in a large park by the river. This Aug. there were over 60 countries exhibiting aspects of their culture; dance, music and great typical ethnic food. One can spend a whole day there going around to the different pavillions sampling food, enjoying the music and dance and colourful clothing. This event goes for 3 days and allows one to be very proud of your heritage. I was wondering how many national holiday you have, that is compulsory holidays. Can anyone tell me.

sunflower_sue 10 years, 8 months ago

Ms_C, sounds like we could learn a thing or two from our northern neighbors!

ms_canada 10 years, 8 months ago

sunflower - and we could learn a few things from our southern neighbours. And I think we each do, at times. When we take our heads out of the sand.

ms_canada 10 years, 8 months ago

Oh and by the way sunflower, you being the great cook that you are. Have a question. In prep for our Thanksgiving feast on Sunday, I am making a couple of sweet potatoe pies today. All the recipes call for butter in the filling. I have it all made up ready to bake, but do you think that if I left the butter out, it would still be good. I hate using so much butter. Can you help me on this.

sgtwolverine 10 years, 8 months ago

Honestly, I am not so much on board with the Heritage Day idea. I think we get a little bit too fractured as a society when we get more into our heritage than we are into our nowitage.

sunflower_sue 10 years, 8 months ago

Ms_C, I've never actually made sweet potato pie as my kiddies are pumpkin junkies. However, I imagine that your recipe calls for around 2 Tablespoons of butter. I would guess that leaving it out would do more to the texture than to the flavor. It might taste more "vegetal" and less creamy. I say, try halving it. You should get by safely doing that...especially if you are using whole milk. I say go over the top and sprinkle 1/4 cup of brown sugar over the bottom crust before you add the filling. Thanksgiving is no time to scrimp on the calories and fat! Enjoy your I'm going to have to go buy some sweet potatoes! I'm hungry!

sunflower_sue 10 years, 8 months ago

"Nowitage." I like it!

Happy Nowitage Day!!!

ms_canada 10 years, 8 months ago

Happy Nowatage Day - yes I like it. But I still think it is a good idea not to forget where you come from. And sue - used evaporated milk although not as much as with a pumkin pie recipe. But these recipes were calling for 1/2 cup butter. I will do as you suggest. If I don't tell my gang it is sweet potatoe, theydon't know the difference between pumkin and S. P. One year I made the pies with carrots and they did not know. I used demarara sugar and the filling got nice and brown like pumpkin. Well, better get on with it. Have to take my turkey out of the freezer and get my broccoli salad stuff ready. also making a carrot, cauliflower, celery, onion casserole with a cheese sauce. Lots of stuffing and cranberry sauce. I cook my cranberries in orange juice and add a little cinnamon. ymm I am getting hungry already. Diane is bringing her excellent spinach salad. And then guess what, I get to do this all over again on Nov. 22 with my sister in Calif. Have my ticket all bought and paid for. Happy Columbus Day all you who will celebrate it. I was so looking forward to watching the Norfolk Admirals hockey team play the Phili team tonight but grandson Rob and the other Canadian rookies won't be playing tonight, have to get their immigration status worked out first. Oh well, next Friday they play in --oh I forget.

Grundoon Luna 10 years, 8 months ago

Ms_C, There are 10 Federal holidays, not all adopted by employers but most reasonable employers offer 10 holidays anyway. Some will not honor Columbus day, but give Shop 'till you Drop Day (the day after Thanksgiving) off, which is not a federal holiay. Same thing with Christmas eve, not a federal holiday, but a lot of folks get it off but not MLK Day

Sigmud, I know how much you adore National Breast Appreciation Day, but sadly that is not a recognized holiday. :-( (I dig your post of earlier today)

mtnfreak 10 years, 8 months ago

How has anyone failed to notice by now that "John Smithies" looks like Norm Stewart? I get the chills just looking at him.

jumpin_catfish 10 years, 8 months ago

I'm happy to report that I will not be working on Monday with pay. Oh yes, I'm one of those lucky folks who get the day off and could care less about Columbus and what he did or didn't do. I can't change the past so it is stupid to debate the what ifs. The world is what it is, so a better plan would be to move on together but people have this need to focus on our differences instead of what we all have in common. Learn from the past and build a better future.

camper 10 years, 8 months ago

Was gonna comment but just noticed that there are ciggarette butts in the beer I'm drinkin. Better check out.

Oracle_of_Rhode 10 years, 8 months ago

The Vikings were here first, in Vinland (on the Atlantic coast of Newfoundland, Canada). Columbus wasn't first and he was a vicious slaver to boot. I say: dump Columbus Day.

lawrenceofkansas 10 years, 8 months ago

Discover America? How about I "discover" money in your pocket?

Kontum1972 10 years, 8 months ago

why don't we ask Bush and Cheney what they think?

they seem to pretty darn good in fixing things.....

kneejerkreaction 10 years, 8 months ago

Banks and the Federal Government honor Columbus' contribution to this country....a holiday. Other than that, I'm not sure what he did for us.

May Soo 10 years, 8 months ago

Well, I get the day off with pay so I would say yes. Otherwise, I don't see the point.

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