Happy Explorer’s Day! Anybody?

My twenty-something daughter got up this morning and said, “How ’bout we show up at a stranger’s house, go right in and say ‘hey we live here now’. That’s all about Columbus Day, right Mom?”

Well, actually, the day is pretty much over now, and NOBODY has even wished me a Happy Columbus Day! No Hallmark cards coming in the mail to greet me in the name of Queen Isabella. When was the last time you saw decorations in the store for Columbus Day? No Nina, Pinta OR Santa Maria cuppy cakes or balloons. No Charlie Brown specials commemorating the day. No Columbus Day candy aisle at Walgreens. I’m not even sure if it is required that we fly the American flag on this holiday, and there certainly weren’t any parades in Oak Park today. There won’t be any fireworks tonight either. But the major department stores do use the day as an excuse for HUGE sales.

AND this day is actually a true insult to the first true Americans, our native brothers and sisters scattered around the United States of America. What in the world are we celebrating invasion of a homeland and slaughter of an innocent population for anyway?

I even ran this whole idea past my eight-something daughter yesterday, and she was amused that it’s actually a holiday. But her main concern is that she still gets a day off from school, no matter what, right.

I propose that Columbus Day be renamed Explorer’s Day. I suggest it would be a step in the right direction if the emphasis shifted away from one Italian explorer to include all explorers, inventors and brave souls from the beginning of our great nation up to this present day. Think about it and talk about it.

And just for a little bit of nostalgia, here’s the only poem I ever heard about this day:

IN 1492

In fourteen hundred ninety-two
Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

He had three ships and left from Spain;
He sailed through sunshine, wind and rain.

He sailed by night; he sailed by day;
He used the stars to find his way.

A compass also helped him know
How to find the way to go.

Ninety sailors were on board;
Some men worked while others snored.

Then the workers went to sleep;
And others watched the ocean deep.

Day after day they looked for land;
They dreamed of trees and rocks and sand.

October 12 their dream came true,
You never saw a happier crew!

“Indians! Indians!” Columbus cried;
His heart was filled with joyful pride.

But “India” the land was not;
It was the Bahamas, and it was hot.

The Arakawa natives were very nice;
They gave the sailors food and spice.

Columbus sailed on to find some gold
To bring back home, as he’d been told.

He made the trip again and again,
Trading gold to bring to Spain.

The first American? No, not quite.
But Columbus was brave, and he was bright.

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October 2011