Op-Ed: Should Columbus Day be a Holiday?

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Op-Ed: Should Columbus Day be a Holiday?


 The debate over Columbus Day heats up as the holiday approaches.
Picture courtesy of Nina Santy.

The debate over Columbus Day heats up as the holiday approaches. Picture courtesy of Nina Santy.

The debate over Columbus Day heats up as the holiday approaches. Picture courtesy of Nina Santy.

The debate over Columbus Day heats up as the holiday approaches. Picture courtesy of Nina Santy.

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Students across America eagerly anticipate Oct. 8, Columbus Day. In the beginning of the school year, students prize any chance to go home early from school, and Columbus Day grants them this opportunity. However, on Oct. 8 few students take the time to consider what this day truly represents. The Colt Chronicle decided to dig deeper into this holiday by interviewing World History teachers Ray Danielson and Danielle Elia.  The Colt Chronicle looked for teachers with a strong background in history to offer a well-educated perspective on this controversial holiday.

Our first step was to inquire on their opinions about whether Columbus Day should even be a holiday. Danielson and Elia both explained that this day celebrates a controversial person important to America’s history. While both stated that the holiday marks an extremely important discovery, they expressed that the impacts of Columbus’s voyage cannot easily be labeled as beneficial or detrimental. Danielson and Elia stated that further education is needed in order to bring awareness to Columbus’ misdeeds.

In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue! This is ingrained in the minds of American students throughout their educational careers. In the opinion of various people, including Elia, many young minds may not understand the severity of decimation of Native Americans associated with Columbus’s arrival in America. We also asked Danielson to weigh in on the role of American school systems in shaping students’ biased perspectives. “When you learn about Columbus, you learn about him at an early age and he is portrayed as a hero. He is romanticized particularly in the lower grades and it’s hard to diminish that [perspective].”

It is often very challenging to change long-established beliefs and traditions. Although many people have considered changing or eliminating Columbus Day as a national holiday, it seems unlikely that real progress will ever be made. According to Mrs. Elia, “Enough people have to speak out for a cause, otherwise it is not going to happen(…)You need resistance in numbers or education in numbers or reform in numbers for that to happen.”

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