Christopher Columbus: A Positive Symbol for all Generations

Sep 27, 2020 549

BY: Frances Uzzi

“You’ll never make it.” “Don’t bother trying.” These are tough words to hear at any age, but ones we have all probably heard at one point or another in our lives. Perhaps this why from the time we are kids we are taught to believe in the opposite: to persevere, not give up, and work to accomplish our goals. One person in history that exemplified these ideals was Christopher Columbus, but unfortunately in today’s world his memory and importance are being diminished. This is why as a proud Italian American I felt compelled to write this article.

All around our country beautiful statues of Christopher Columbus are violently being torn down, and streets and cities are being renamed to remove any “Columbus” identification. If we stop and truly look at history, we will see that Christopher Columbus is deserving of our gratitude, and someone who can serve as a positive example both now and for generations to come.

When Christopher Columbus first made his plans of sailing West across the Atlantic known in the late 1400s, he was turned down by many people and countries, and no doubt heard some of those “you’ll never make it” messages. He did not give up, however, and eventually set sail on those three famous ships we all know today.

These important values of perseverance and hard work are the same exact ones we should be instilling in children and reinforcing in adults today. From school to jobs and businesses, the notion of following our dreams is the very fabric of American life. Just like Columbus, we may encounter bumps in the road along the way, but if we follow through we will come out on the other end. Columbus was indeed the first person to discover a sailing route from Europe to the Americas, and this was a fantastic feat for the time.

His landing in the Americas was a turning point in history, and one that allowed for a connection between continents and peoples that did not exist before. His expeditions and discoveries led to what is now known as the Columbian Exchange, where everything from animals to food was exchanged between the “Old World” of Europe, Africa, and Asia and the “New World” in the Americas. This exchange changed the course of history, and nations all around the globe were introduced to new goods, people, and ideas.

We often hear today of the negative way Columbus and other Europeans treated the native people in the new lands they discovered, and there is no doubt some truth to this.

However, we must not rewrite history and negate all that Columbus accomplished. Certain customs and behaviors acceptable in the 1400s and early 1500s we would most certainly not find acceptable today, and it is crucial for anyone looking into history and deciding how they view Columbus (or any historical figure) to look at the norms and customs of the time period. Again, just like on our own journeys, mistakes can be made, but that doesn’t mean we should dismiss everything else we have accomplished.

As we approach the Italian heritage month of October and the holiday I will always celebrate as Columbus Day in America, I hope this article provides people with more facts and understanding about the importance of Christopher Columbus so more of the wonderful statues and cities in his honor will continue to stand. I also hope this article serves as a source of pride and reinforcement for all Italian Americans; that we should be proud of our heritage, and happy to celebrate such an important person in history.

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