A group of first- and fifth-graders shared their thoughts on Christopher Columbus in Monday’s newspaper.
Some knew who Columbus was and what he did, while others had the idea right if not the facts. Columbus did not sail for forty days and forty nights – just a little confusion with Noah. And he didn’t sail on a pirate ship – maybe a little mix-up there with “Pirates of the Caribbean” star Johnny Depp.
So, why do we really have a holiday Monday?
Columbus was an explorer, born in Genoa, Italy, who made four trips to the New World. While he was not the first person to find the land, he is often considered the founder of the Americas because his voyages and reports back to the king and queen of Spain piqued European interest in the land.
He died thinking he had found the Indies. This was his original goal — to find a shorter route there for trade purposes by sailing west instead of sailing east. This is why he gave modern-day American Indians the name “Indians.”
His ships were the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria, but the latter sank on a return trip. About 90 men sailed with Columbus for 10 weeks across the Atlantic Ocean on the famous voyage of 1492. The crew landed in the Bahamas, and on future trips landed in what are now Haiti and Cuba.
In 1937, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared Oct. 12, the day in 1492 when Columbus reached the Americas, Columbus Day. In 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson changed the date of Columbus Day to the second Monday of October.
Wendy K. Kleinman