Today is Columbus Day, which — despite the dramatic and deserved downgrade in Christopher Columbus’ standing as a historical hero — remains one of just 10 federal holidays.
Oct. 12, 1492 was the day that the first Atlantic crossing by Columbus (note: he never called himself Christopher Columbus) sighted land (it was an island in the Bahamas) in what for centuries was described as the “discovery” of the “New World.” So the Monday closest to that date is a day off for federal employees but not too many of the rest of us.
Back in my Strib days — in fact on the 1992 quincentennial of the Columbian first voyage– my misguided but well-intentioned editors gave me leave to write a monstrous-long review of the not-so-glorified version of the story. I boiled that version down to a long-but-perhaps-not-monstrously-so version and posted it on ericblackink in my early post-Strib days when blackink was affiliated with the Minnesota Monitor. And today, as I did last year on Columbus Day, I offer a link to that version with a warning that it contains material that some viewers may find disturbing.
It has some stuff in it that you may not know about the man for whom the District of Columbia, Columbia University, the capital of Ohio, possibly the capital of Sri Lanka (there seems to be some dispute) and a great many other things have been named.
If you would like to see how President Obama steered his way between the Scylla of Columbus worship and the Charybdis of Columbus-bashing, his annual proclamation on the occasion of Columbus Day is here.
And if you do click through to my Columbus piece and want to comment on it, please come back here to do so.