My mom gets off work Monday, because she works for the federal government. The rest of us still have school, which is a disappointment. But in thinking last week, I had to stop and pause.
Why is Columbus Day a holiday? As I recall from American history classes, approximately 95% of the natives were progressively wiped out, because we landed on the shores and decided that the land, as white people, belonged to US and no one else. Germs did most of the trick, and as for the leftovers? Guns and steel were pretty efficient.
Finders keepers, right? Wrong.
Over 400 years after this country was founded, no one would argue that we had a right to exterminate the native peoples that we found here. I’m not a romantic; some tribes were absolutely vicious to each other. The times didn’t see anything wrong with this course of action either.
But Columbus Day only became a holiday in 1937, less than 100 years ago. By that time, de facto segregation was more or less allowed, but explicit segregation was outlawed. Today, we’ve become the most liberal place on Earth, and anything goes.
This year, I’ll be celebrating the second days of Sukkot on Columbus Day, so the holiday is pretty irrelevant.
For the rest of you, my question is this: why do we still celebrate this holiday? And what should it mean to us?