Thursday, October 6, 2016

We Owe It All to a Dreamer

Opinion by John T. "Red" Ryan

ONCE AGAIN WE come to one of our traditional, if not major,
holidays. After periods of observance in different States and countries in various titles, Columbus Day was declared to be a National Holiday by Act of Congress in 1937. Although originally the date was affixed at October the 12th, in order commemorate that date in 1492, modern scheduling has moved it to the second Monday in October. This year (being 2016) brings it on Monday, October 10.

WE HAVE ALWAYS heard about on how the first voyage of Columbus, he discovered America. But many dispute this claim because it was not the main part of the North American continent that was the point of their landing; but rather an island in the Caribbean Sea; which Columbus named San Salvador (Holy Savior). This island is now a part of the Bahamas. Other arguments abound that other European mariners' having visited North America many years before. Icelandic Viking, Leif Ericson (970-1020 AD) is said to have visited what is now Newfoundland in Canada; unsuccessfully attempting to establish a permanent settlement. Irish born St. Brendan the Navigator is believed to have visited the cost of what is now our New England states; although there is little solid evidence to support this; save for some Indians' remains having been found buried Christian style . 

ALTHOUGH WE CAN argue the merits or lack there of
concerning any one of several ancients' legendary voyages, there is one strong argument that  Cristoforo Colombo (in Italian) is the true winner of the navigational & exploration sweepstakes. There is no denying that it was because of his voyages that the New World was opened for colonization by European nations.

ANOTHER SORT OF challenge to our traditional Autumn holiday comes from those who advocate the institution of an American Indian Day. Under the title of Native American Celebration or whatever title, the plan of at least some of its proponents would eliminate Columbus Day from the calendar, replacing or superseding it with the new holiday. We beg to differ with this approach. After all, there are certainly enough other second Mondays to go around.     

SO HOW WILL you and the family celebrate Columbus Day this year? We know how we Post War Baby Boomers did it in the 1950s & 60s. Back in the day, kids out of school would head for their local movie house at about 10:00 AM for what was an old Chicago tradition. Be it at the Midwest, the Brighton, the Highway or the Ogden theaters, we gathered for what was called a "25 Cartoon Show."  Obviously these were much simpler times as our Grandsons, Jack (4 years) and little brother Patrick (2 years) could see many more cartoons in any day without leaving their living room!

BUT, HOWEVER WE celebrate, let us never lose sight of what we have here and remember that we owe it all to an Italian dreamer, working in the service of the Spanish crown. And until the day of his death, he believed that his efforts were a failure for not reaching Asia.

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John T. “Red” Ryan is a retired Chicago police officer and Garfield Ridge resident.   

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