Monday, October 11, 2010

"Happy 'Vespucci Day'!" revisted

Note: This post originally appeared on The Latin Americanist in 2009.

Today is Columbus Day in the U.S. and depending on your perspective it’s either an occasion to celebrate the “discovery” of America or denounce European atrocities against Amerindians.

Columbus Day is also celebrated as a day of Italian-American heritage including the contributions of Italian migrants to the U.S. While such a community deserves their day of cultural pride, I’ve often wondered if the day ought to be named for another Italian explorer without Columbus’ checkered past. As I’ve mentioned in the past, why not rename Columbus Day?
A case could be made for cartographer and explorer Amerigo Vespucci, whose name gave birth to calling the western hemisphere “America.” Why not Antonio Pigafetta who was one of a handful of survivors from Ferdinand Magellan’s famed voyage around the world between 1519 and 1522 or Giovanni da Verrazano- the first European to explore the Atlantic coast of North America. Surely a strong case could be made for Giovanni Caboto (more commonly known as John Cabot) who was Genoa-born and lays claim to being the first European explorer to set foot on the North American mainland since the Vikings.

These gentlemen are not only sources of Italian pride but also beacons of discovery and exploration whose legacies carry far less of a stigma than Christopher Columbus.
What are your thoughts on Columbus, the holiday named in his honor, and his legacy?

Online Sources- The Latin Americanist, CBS News, Wikipedia, Thinkquest

1 comment:

theexilesclan said...

To my mind every person have to read it.