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Columbus Day, 2013 – Remembering the Voyage, Not the Man

October 14, 2013

We will be he first to admit that Columbus Day is, hands down, the most problematic and controversial holiday on the federal calendar.Klein_06_017

After all, how can anyone be comfortable celebrating the life of a man whose arrival in the “New World” started the systematic genocide of the Carib Indians and all of the original natives of the Americas?

And never mind the introduction of such evil institutions as the Spanish Inquisition, which led to years and years of persecution and religious intolerance.

That said, there is something impressive with what one man and his crew accomplished back in 1492 when they set about “to sail the ocean blue.” And that is illustrated by this 1971 slide we recently digitized for a client, who generously allowed us to share it with you. WE are posting it as our way of commemorating Columbus Day 2013.

It is a photo of the Santa Maria, the flagship of Columbus’ fleet. Well, not the actual ship. As a lot of folks know, the ship ran aground in Haiti on Christmas 1492 and Columbus decided to take it apart and build another ship. In fact, our only idea of what it looked like and how large it was comes from first-hand accounts of the time.

The replica shown in this photograph was built by the Franco regime and resided in Barcelona harbor until it was destroyed purportedly by anarchists in 1992. The Spanish government has since built a new one and it remains a tourist attraction to this day.

As the picture shows, the Santa Maria was no larger than a medium-sized yacht and was never intended for exploration. And yet Columbus, along with about 40 crewmates, was able to do what no one (or let’s just say few) had ever done: Sail more than 4,000 miles across the Atlantic to the “New World.” Let’s not forget there was no navigation equipment, except for some faulty maps, a sextant, a compass and the stars to guide them.

Pretty amazing, if you ask us.

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