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For the first time in September, it finally feels like autumn has arrived at the Lions Pride office. With the summer of 2017 officially behind us, it feels like there is a lot of time before the holiday season approaches, but there is always one holiday in October that always seems to sneak up on us – Columbus Day.
Think back to your grade school years. While the lessons in themselves may be a bit foggy, you likely remember this rhythmic line, “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” We were taught that Christopher Columbus was the first person to set sail and set foot on the “New Land,” but in the last few decades, historians have revealed what they believe is the actual history. There are a few theories depicting the birth of America, including one that a Viking actually arrived nearly 400 years before Columbus was even born.
Exploration was a family business for the Erikssons. Leif was the son of Erik the Red, founder of Greenland. It’s believed in the year 1000 AD, Erikkson sailed to Norway where he was converted to Christianity by King Olaf I. Then he set out on his next great adventure.
We have heard differing stories, some believe that Erikkson got lost traveling back to Greenland and sailed off course; others say that he heard rumor of a new land and went off to see it for himself. Regardless of the background, Leif discovered the North American continent. He spent winter exploring a region he called Vinland, what many now believe to be Newfoundland. After a few months, he traveled back to Greenland and never returned. Other competing theories say America’s first discoverers could have been Irish monks or Chinese explorers.
So, if Christopher Columbus wasn’t the first to discover America, why does he get a holiday and the credit? The answer is actually quite simple. Many believe he is known as the founder because he was the first to open up America to Europe – the world’s greatest expansionist at that time. We know now that there were already millions of people already here – the Native Americans, so it is likely that their ancestors were truly the New World’s first explorers.
Today, 17 states have chosen not to observe Columbus Day as a national holiday. Several cities and states are now choosing to celebrate instead with Indigenous People’s Day.
Hopefully, as time goes on, we will continue to learn more and more about the history of our country. We know that our past may not be perfect, but remember, it’s the struggles and challenges that show the greatest lessons and give us the opportunity to come together as one.