The Second Monday in October

Plastered on planners and calendars as the second Monday of October, Columbus Day, a national holiday implemented to celebrate the achievements of Christopher Columbus, has caused a rift in America for decades. 

Christopher Columbus, an Italian explorer who was sent by the Spanish to find a fast way to the Indian Ocean basin, but ended up in the West Indies. Photo provided by history.com

Columbus discovered and explored the West Indies, uniting the Western hemisphere and the Eastern hemisphere for the first time, and created a truly global world. It was declared a national holiday by former United States (US) President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1937 and is considered as one of the ten US federal holidays. Though the magnitude of his discovery was massive, a large number of Americans disagree on honoring the man behind the deed. 

Columbus caused the annihilation of almost fifty-five million indigenous people through disease and acts of violence, practically 90% of the total population. Instead of giving respect to a man who decimated the population of indigenous people of the Americas, people argue that the resilient descendants of the Native American tribes that survived this mass murder should be honored. 

Indigenous People’s Day is celebrated instead of Columbus Day in certain states. Photo provided by northeastern.edu

In 2019, the District of Columbia (DC) Council ruled that Columbus Day will be temporarily replaced by Indigenous People’s Day. Alaska, Arizona, DC, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin all observe this as a holiday. However, it is not counted as a paid vacation day, and some states continue to share the holiday with Columbus Day.

Though Columbus Day is connected to a forlorn history of genocide, it is still a quite controversial topic. Some will separate the man from the day in order celebrate the linking of the hemispheres together. Others mourn the men, women and children who died because of it; yet, at the end of the day, it’s just the second Monday in October.

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