America must stop vilifying Columbus
The 15th century began the Age of Exploration. The explorers were extraordinary men, daring, and capable of miraculous as-well-as monstrous deeds. Francisco Pizarro executed the last Inca emperor. Hernán Cortés conquered the Aztec Empire in Mexico. And they, like Christopher Columbus before them, were men of their times. They were lionized for their successes without any question of their tactics or motives until very recently. Yet, I think we can all agree that these brave men had a profound impact on the history of North and Central America.
There are some who would take down the statue of Columbus in the City of Buffalo. I suggest that we need not rewrite history in that manner; we should, however, learn from it. I believe that it is time to stop vilifying Columbus. He is merely a historical figure, but he has evolved into so much more. He is the symbol of Italian-American heritage throughout the United States. His statue represents all that is good in our Italian communities and all the contributions and sacrifices made by countless Italian-Americans.
Oct. 12 is Columbus Day, a national holiday. Italians hold that day quite dear. Native Americans would like to rename Columbus Day.
I have both affection and respect for our Native American brothers and sisters. On Aug. 3, 1990, President George H.W. Bush proclaimed November as Native American Indian Heritage Month. On Nov. 24, we will celebrate Native American Heritage Day in the United States. Native Americans have been recognized and honored with an entire month and a day. What happened in the distant past should not diminish the pride that Italians attach to Columbus Day.
Suzanne E. D’Amato, Ph.D.