Columbus Day should be a national holiday

Detail of Portrait of Christopher Columbus

Detail of Portrait of Christopher Columbus

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who will march in the Columbus Day parade in Manhattan on Monday, said last month that the Christopher Columbus statue is about honoring Italian Americans, according to the Post. They spoke out before being escorted away.

Explaining the reasoning, Councilman Paul Lopez pointed to the Native American tribes of the Arapaho and Cheyenne, who used land on the site of what would eventually become the city. "It is a history that we must recognize as we seek to build a brighter future - side by side and with cooperation and mutual respect".

Nearly two-thirds of respondents who said they were Catholic, or 65 percent, expressed a "favorable" or "very favorable" opinion of Columbus and the national holiday that honors him.

Aguirre said people have been protesting the statue for years, and his next step is to speak with city council about taking it down. President Franklin Roosevelt created the first federal observance of Columbus Day in 1937.

In New York, the Columbus conversation has focused on scrutiny, vandalism and support of the statue of Christopher Columbus in the center of Columbus Circle in Manhattan.

Several states, including Texas and California, do not recognize Columbus Day as a paid holiday for its government employees.

Although Native American groups consider Columbus a European colonizer responsible for the genocide of millions of indigenous people, supporters of the holiday have argued he was an important figure in Italian American heritage.

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Cities in various states do not celebrate Columbus Day and instead celebrate Indigenous Peoples' Day or Native American Day.

The movement can generally be traced back to 1991, when Indigenous Peoples Day was first codified into law in Berkeley, Calif., as a counterpoint to the 500th anniversary of Columbus' landing.

Hunter Sagaskie, a Native American Programs peer adviser, also thinks the national holiday is inappropriate.

States like Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon, South Dakota, and Vermont do not recognize Columbus Day at all; however, Hawaii and South Dakota mark the day with an alternative holiday.

One option is adding statues, said Alfred Brophy, a law professor at the University of Alabama who studies historical memory.

Christopher Columbus' legendary linking of the Old World to the New is embedded into the fabric of the US, with schools, businesses, cities, rivers and more named after him.

Wilmington Selectman Kevin Caira, a member of the Wilmington Sons of Italy, said some people are trying to rewrite history. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, "The Italian American Civic League of Utah sent the City Council a letter September 26, understanding the proposed resolution as the rejection of Columbus Day - "an uncalled-for affront to our culture" and "degrading and demeaning to all Italian-Americans".

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