**Previously recorded by Phyllis Schlafly // October 2012 **
Today we are observing Columbus Day, a national holiday honoring Christopher Columbus, the discoverer of our country. Columbus, indeed, was one of the world’s most remarkable men. One hundred years ago, in 1912, a giant Christopher Columbus Memorial Fountain was unveiled at the front entrance of Union Station in Washington, DC, on a road appropriately called Columbus Circle. This marble and granite memorial was designed to inspire patriotism in the 90,000 people who pass through Washington’s major transportation hub every day. At the center is a statue of Columbus.
President William H. Taft delivered the address at the unveiling of this memorial in 1912. He said, “It is most appropriate in this beautiful place in which the visitors to the country’s capital first set foot… that he should be confronted by a statue of the great mariner whose genius and daring opened this half of the world to progress and development.”
Many falsehoods grew up around Columbus in the 20th century. Everybody knows that Columbus was looking for gold, but do you know why he was looking for gold? Columbus planned it to finance a crusade to take Jerusalem back from the Muslims. He was also very interested in evangelizing the natives in the Christian faith. Columbus was really the first modern man. As an explorer and discoverer, he based his work on science and reason. He surely was one of the world’s greatest sailors. He crossed the Atlantic Ocean four times in small wooden ships, without the use of modern instruments. Maybe any sailor could have let the winds carry his ships west. But what was so remarkable was that Columbus returned back to where he came from, and then returned to the same locations in the Western Hemisphere where he had landed before. It took an extraordinary navigator to do that. He discovered the New World.
I have been aboard replicas of Columbus’s three ships, the Santa Maria, the Nina and the Pinta, and I am still awestruck at recalling the bravery of the men who made that journey and the leader who kept them together until they landed in the New World.