In an economy that’s a ship dead in the water, traditional ethnic pride isn’t worth the cost of a paid holiday for our workers, government or private. I get ethnic pride; my grandfather, Antonio Evangelista born in Italy, is only one of my three foreign-born grandparents. I get tradition. I am a Texas Aggie, a graduate of a university where tradition has been known to trump common sense. Tradition is also the foundation of our federal legal holidays and this blog’s posts on them.
The Presidential Proclamation for this year’s legal holiday uses the voyage of 1492 as metaphor for our national character:
The excitement Christopher Columbus and his crewmembers experienced that October morning is felt every day by today's pioneers: entrepreneurs and inventors, researchers and engineers. On the anniversary of Christopher Columbus's voyage, we celebrate the pursuit of discovery as an essential element of the American character. Embracing this heritage and inspiring young people to set their own sails, our Nation will reach the shores of an ever brighter tomorrow.The most important discovery that will make our tomorrow brighter isn’t going to occur in some laboratory or R&D unit. It has to occur in Congress and statehouses across the county when our elected representatives, like Columbus’ crew, discover that the ship doesn’t move forward without cooperation. We don’t get far when the right side and the left side of the boat are more concerned about beating each other than in what lies ahead. But enough about that, how about this legal holiday?
In Colorado, Columbus Day has a place of honor in the list of legal holidays because while the New World was “discovered” 1900 miles to our southeast, the legal holiday commemorating it happened here. Colorado was the first state to make Columbus Day a legal holiday in 1907; the feds didn’t follow suit until 1971.
As business is this blog’s focus, we should recall that Columbus’s voyage was actually a business venture that took advantage of increasing competition and imperialistic attitudes among European nations. If this Italian had not opened the door to Europe’s colonization of the Americas, it is inevitable that another European would have. Exploitation, slavery and disease would have followed just the same. We can’t change how cultures collided 500 years ago, but we don’t have to accept continuing collisions.
|Jasmine Pickner, world champion hoop dancer from the Crow Creek Sioux, celebrating another legal holiday: Independence Day|