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.
Listen to the radio commentary here: