"In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue."
We all know this line from our youth. We were taught that in 1492 Christopher Columbus set sail with three ships, Santa Maria, Pinta, and Nina, to prove that world was round. Instead he ended up in the Caribbean and would return three more times.
Today we celebrate Christopher Columbus in the United States as discovering this land. However, in none of his four voyages did he ever set foot and what would become the United States or even see the coastline. On top of that, for the rest of his life he claimed to have landed on the Asian coast, somewhere near India.
Yet here we are 520 years after his first voyage still celebrating the great discoverer.
I have long questioned how anything in the "new world" could be discovered considering that native Americans had been here since the previous ice age when they came across the land bridge between Russia and what is now Alaska and then spread out through the Americas. But that was the genius (or rather the cockiness) of the Western world. Most of the European countries at that time felt that they were top of the human chain and lands that they had not been on were simply undiscovered.
The Columbus story has changed recently to more reflect what had actually happened because of his journeys, that now the Western world knew of the lands that made up the Americas and it would become a new focal point for them rather than trying to sail to Asian lands.
If we are going to continue to celebrate Columbus Day, should we not also celebrate Viking Day, or even Chinese Day (because there is evidence, though flimsy and sparse at the current time, that they actually preceded the Vikings landing in America)?
Oh well, at least people get a day off.