I was surprised to see the post office closed yesterday, as I had forgotten it was Columbus Day, as fewer and fewer honor this holiday. Many private schools now opt out of taking the day off, as well as several other organizations, that 10 years ago would have been closed.
Why the change? The history books have changed since I was born. It is no longer widespread knowledge amongst children that Christopher Columbus discovered the Americas, and now that is disputed by many. As they ask the question "how did someone discover a place, where people were already living?" Good question. There was a very advanced civilization that was thriving throughout the Americas that was quickly exterminated in many pockets of the Americas, first in the Caribbean, and then rapidly on the main land, via disease and warfare. So, some now question, why it should be celebrated as a National Holiday. And many question the respect involved for the natives already living here happily, and flourishing, when a white man on a ship arrived and started killing them.
In Latin America, many countries celebrate Dia de la Raza, or day or the race in October, and have for a long time, to pay special respect to the arrival of the Europeans. It is a celebration of the arrival and blending of cultures, languages, peoples, and much more.
And when we celebrate this mix up of cultures, we should also note that it was Spanish that Cristobol Colon (Christopher Columbus) brought from Europe, and specifically from Spain. We can thank his fleets that Spanish is the language of most of the Americas today!