Tuesday, October 12, 2010

On This Day in History: Those dastardly explorers

A statue of Christopher Columbus in Providence, Rhode Island was found vandalized with red paint yesterday.  For additional effect, a sign that read "murderer" was left hanging around the statue's waist.  Later that day, dueling rallies were held in Boston, about 50 miles from Providence, to celebrate and protest the observance of the Spanish explorer's voyage to the Americas.

Although anti-Columbus sentiment is not new, it has become more virulent.  As school curricula give way to hypersensitivity aimed at national pride, the disregard of other cultural imperfections that are celebrated ad nauseam while concurrently refusing to acknowledge the achievements of both the explorers and Founding Fathers, without whom our greatness would not be possible, is unavoidably conspicuous.  It's also abject hypocrisy.

Aside from Columbus, the following Europeans deserve some degree of recognition and gratitude for their exploration throughout the Americas: John Cabot (c. 1497, via England), Alonso de Ojeda (c. 1499, via Spain, alongside Amerigo Vespucci, after whom America is named), Vicente Yáñez Pinzón (c. 1500, via Spain), Pedro Álvares Cabral (c. 1500, via Portugal), Gaspar Corte-Real (c. 1500, via Spain), Rodrigo de Bastidas (c. 1501, via Spain), Vasco Núñez de Balboa (c. 1513, via Spain), Juan Ponce de León (c. 1513, via Spain) and Juan Díaz de Solís (c. 1516, via Spain).

Now for some history...

1492 – The first expedition led by Christopher Columbus makes landfall for the first time at San Salvador Island in The Bahamas.

1792 – The first celebration of Columbus Day is observed in New York.  It would not become a Federal holiday until 1937.

1793 – The cornerstone of Old East, the oldest building at the oldest State university in the United States, is laid on the campus of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

1870 – General Robert Edward Lee died.  A West Point graduate (class of 1829) and U.S. Army Colonel whom President Lincoln personally chose to quell a certain uprising in the South, Lee is best remembered as both the commanding general of the Confederate Army and one of the greatest of all Americans.

1892 – The Pledge of Allegiance is first recited by students in many public schools throughout the United States as part of a celebration marking the 400th anniversary of Columbus's voyage.

1901 – The Executive Mansion is officially renamed "The White House" by President Theodore Roosevelt.

1960 – As both General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and Premier of the USSR, Nikita Khrushchev infamously pounds his shoe on a desk during an assembly of the United Nations to protest the assertion of colonial policy being conducted by the Soviets throughout eastern Europe.

1972 – En route to the Gulf of Tonkin, a racial brawl involving more than 100 sailors breaks out aboard the USS Kitty Hawk.

1999 – Although its veracity is debatable, "The Day of Six Billion" is commemorated by the United Nations Population Fund as the approximate day on which the number of people in the world reached 6,000,000,000 following the birth of Adnan Nevic in Sarajevo, Bosnia.

2000 – Religion of Peace: The USS Cole (DDG-667), a United States Navy destroyer, is badly damaged in the port of Aden, Yemen by two suicide bombers connected to al-Qaeda, killing 17 and wounding 39.

2002 – Religion of Peace: Terrorists detonate bombs in Kuta, Bali, killing 202 and wounding over 300.

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