Today is the day we observe Columbus Day, although his real day is October 12. Since 1971, Columbus Day has been observed on the second Monday in October because Americans like holidays on Mondays so we can enjoy three-day weekends. I'm glad we have an official holiday to commemorate Christopher Columbus. Americans have celebrated Columbus's arrival in the New World ever since the colonial period, and it's been a federal holiday since 1937.
Columbus sailed to the New World in 1492 in command of three little sailboats, the Santa Maria, the Nina and the Pinta. Of course, his original boats have not survived, but perfect replicas were built as tourist attractions to show modern generations what his sailboats were like. I had the privilege of boarding and walking on the replicas of those three boats and I can tell you it is awesome to think of the brave crewmen on each of those little boats who slept on the floor, and braved the rough Atlantic Ocean, out of sight of land for about a month, to make it all the way to the New World.
Columbus was one of the most remarkable sailors in world history. Maybe it wasn't such a great feat to have sailed West till he reached land, but it took incredible skill to sail back to Spain where he came from, and then to return to the same island in America on later voyages.
Columbus was a man of great moral and physical courage. Again and again he faced armed rebels, frightful storms, dangerous Indians, the threat of mutiny from his own crew who were scared to death that they would never see land again. Columbus was a man of deep Christian faith. He believed that God intended him to cross the Atlantic Ocean in order to spread Christianity. We know this from his own handwritten diary.
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