Is commemorating Columbus coming to an end?

Should schools in Illinois and around the country honor this controversial figure?

Grace Cloherty, Staff Reporter

In 1937, Columbus Day was recognized as a national holiday in the United States. Columbus Day commemorates Christopher Columbus’ arriving in the New World. He sailed the ocean blue in 1492. There’s no doubt of that, but was he truly the first to discover the Americas? Columbus is widely recognized for the discovery of America, although there are many discrepancies in this theory, and people were already here.

As for Columbus himself, he mapped the coasts of Central America and South America but never set foot on North America, and he died thinking he had discovered Asia. So yes, discovering certain pieces of land may be cause for celebration in other countries and regions of the world, but not in the United States.

Unlike one of our forefathers, George Washington, Columbus quickly seized the opportunity to become ruler.

According to the Washington Post, “Even his most ardent admirers acknowledge that Columbus was self-centered, ruthless, avaricious and a racist.” Is that the kind of leader Americans want to memorialize?

However, he was organized. He kept the inhabitants of his new world in order with handmade pendants that they were to wear. The pendants served another purpose also. Howard Zinn, historian and professor at Boston University, went in depth about Columbus’ secret agenda.

“When someone brought him gold, he gave the person a little pendant to wear around his or her neck, which exempted that person from needing to bring him more gold—at least for a little while,” Zinn writes. What if they didn’t have gold to bring to Columbus, and therefore didn’t get the necklace?

“If a native didn’t bring Columbus more gold, he’d cut off a hand and make the native wear it around his or her neck,” said Zinn.

The majority of people, even at a Elk Grove High School, have misconceptions about Columbus Day. Sophomore Nazareth Graff said, “[Columbus] ‘found’ our country.” He used finger quotes, which would make someone believe that’s not what his true opinion is. However, he still thinks the holiday should still honor Columbus, primarily because there is no school on October 10. Graff doesn’t have any other opinion on what else October 10 could be used to celebrate.

Lindsay Bucciarelli, an AP Human Geography teacher, shared her opinion as well. When asked why she thinks Columbus Day is a national holiday, she replied with a common response.

“People believe that he discovered America.” However, she, too, thinks that it should stay the same.

Not everyone agrees with this, although it may seem that way. Freshman Tanya Stayura said Columbus Day is a national holiday “because Christopher Columbus was the one who discovered America for Europeans. America was already discovered by Native Americans. I think the holiday shouldn’t stay named Columbus Day,” she said.

“The day should honor the Native Americans and what we did to them and how it was initially their land.” Stayura brings up a what Columbus did to the inhabitants Christopher Columbus and his men enslaved forcing them to convert to Christianity and subdueing them with violence in an effort to seek riches. provides more descriptive information on Columbus’s misdeeds.