Two decades ago, Columbus Day represented the spirit of discovery and the American Dream. Now the name Columbus conjures up - for some at least - images of genocide and brutality. Why the change?
One of the reasons history changes is that it gets re-interpreted. "Honest Abe" no longer seems so honest, we all know George Washington never chopped down that cherry tree, and Columbus didn't really discover America. All those stories are re-remembered while looking through the eyes of 2015.
The interesting thing about this phenomenon is that whether we are learning history in 1995 or 2015, it feels most accurate at the time we are learning it. Truth is, neither is really accurate at all.
Rather than looking at history through today's eyes, I think we should try to look at history through the eyes of those who lived during that time. If we did that, we would probably find that Columbus was neither a hero nor a villain. He was simply a man. He was a man whom people thought was a white god. A man who unknowingly carried diseases that the indigenous peoples were not immune to. A man who lived in a society with definite ideas of how to colonize and civilize a people. A man who saw opportunity and took advantage of it. Not a particularly good or bad man, but just... a man.
As to whether Columbus Day should be a federal holiday... well, I always like an excuse to have a day off.
I write about, with, for, and around kids all day. (Well, maybe I do the dishes too. Sometimes.)