Mounting support for renaming today 'Exploration Day'

Monday, October 8, 2012

Is it time for a new national holiday?

No, we're not suggesting we should add to the already generous number of days federal (and, often, state, county, city and bank) employees have off.

A look at the issues, however, can be used to make a compelling case for changing the name of Columbus Day.

A few years ago, we used this space to list the problems with honoring Christopher Columbus, such as the fact he was almost certainly not the first to "discover" the new continents, trailing Norse and even Asian explorers by centuries. Plus, there is the fact he introduced smallpox and other diseases to the new world, as well as venerial disease and tobacco to the old.

Then, there are the deaths of millions of Native Americans, from the first Columbus encountered in the Caribbean to the last who died in a virtual genocide with the influx of European settlers.

We didn't mention the political aspects of Columbus Day, officially recognized, many contend, by FDR in 1937 to attract the Italian vote.

The idea of renaming Columbus Day as "Exploration Day" is gaining traction this year, as an effort to honor people like the recently departed Neil Armstrong, a reluctant hero who nevertheless had "the right stuff" when the challenge of landing a primitive spaceship on the moon demanded it.

Tom Diehl, Karl Frank and Dr. Rod Wright of ExplorationDayUSA.org are promoting the idea:

"Neil Armstrong's triumph was not just in what he as an individual accomplished, but what we as a species have accomplished together. It makes you wonder what this world would be like today if we only had the same kind of attitude that put a human being on the moon in the first place," Frank said.

"Inspired by the likes of Armstrong's generation, we are finished wondering and are ready to make it happen by rekindling that fire of exploratory spirit intrinsic in all of humanity. Like the exploratory fire found in women like Sacajawea, Hedy Lamar, Amelia Earhart, and men like Lewis and Clark, John Fremont, Matthew Henson, Charles Lindbergh and the more contemporary Elon Musk," he said.

You can learn more at ExplorationDayUSA.org or sign a petition at change.org

While many "firsts" were accomplished long ago, the age of exploration is far from over.

For example, if weather allows on Tuesday, Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner will try for the highest, fastest free fall in history.

Advising him is Joe Kittinger, who holds the record for his 1960 jump from a helium balloon at 19.5 miles in altitude, who reached 614 mph, just shy of breaking the sound barrier at that height.

If all goes according to plan, Baumgartner will exit the gondola at 23 miles high, breaking the record and sound barrier in the process.

Baumgartner already made practice jumps from 15 miles high in March and 18 miles high in July.

He's being sponsored by an energy drink, of course. Exploration has never been exclusively a government-funded endeavor.

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  • How about no paid holiday for government workers? The county is in serious debt and getting worse by the day.

    -- Posted by dennis on Mon, Oct 8, 2012, at 3:50 PM
  • People are really crazy. Why not take away President's day too in since the men who were celebrated on those days were slave owners? People only want to take away from the achievements of Italian Americans. We don't even have the right to call ourselves Latin in this country. The same people who complain about Columbus Day are the same people who call Hispanics Latins! If they are sad about what happened to their indigenous ancestors, why don't they stop only calling themselves Latino and only acknowledging their colonial heritage! Why don't they acknowledge their indigenous heritage? Viva Italia! Viva Cristoforo Colombo! Stop racism against Italians and Italian Americans! Stop overshadowing our rich history both with Jersey shore! The bottom line is yes, the indigenous inhabited America prior to Columbus but he discovered it for the old world! Provincia di latina is in Rome! The Latin language was started in Rome and is still spoken in the Vatican in Rome! Only Latins are Italians, Spanish in Spain, French, Portuguese, and Romanians! How are m

    -- Posted by Czgirl on Tue, Oct 9, 2012, at 3:15 AM
  • Also not 1 of the men exploring exploration day is an Italian!

    -- Posted by Czgirl on Tue, Oct 9, 2012, at 3:16 AM
  • Did you mean "country"?

    -- Posted by Todd Cappel on Wed, Oct 10, 2012, at 6:02 AM
  • Thanks Todd. You caught the typo. But unfortunately it is both county and country

    -- Posted by dennis on Wed, Oct 10, 2012, at 7:46 PM
  • So the city has no debt? Thank goodness city leaders figured out how to pay for things with the city sales tax so they can claim the property tax doesn't increase. I wonder what the City of McCook property tax levy would need to be with current spending levels by the city? Too bad we don't have any journalists in McCook that would actually research that question to put in proper perspective the claim the city makes every time they state they haven't raised property taxes. To be fair to other government functions that constantly get attacked by you, this question needs to be asked.

    -- Posted by Todd Cappel on Thu, Oct 11, 2012, at 7:08 AM
  • The answer is without a sales tax ---that the citizens of McCook voted in--the property tax levy would have increased. And even without an increase in levy, because of the increase in valuation the city raked in just over $8500 this past year. This included new dollars collected because of new building and or building improvements aound town. Like the Gazette said in their editorial, of all the local taxing groups the city increased their budget request the least of any. Less than 1 percent! Others were double figure increases. One I believe was over 20%

    -- Posted by dennis on Thu, Oct 11, 2012, at 11:55 AM
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