Bush Fetes Explorer, Italian Americans on Holiday; Cities Still Parade for 'Euro-Centric' Observance

Article excerpt

Byline: Jennifer Harper, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Christopher Columbus was a hero in many places yesterday.

"The journey of the explorer from Genoa is one of the great stories of daring and discovery," President Bush said in a Columbus Day observance.

"Every aspect of our culture, whether it be art or music, to law and politics, owes something to the influence of Italian Americans," Mr. Bush said.

The traditional interpretation of Columbus Day also was evident around the nation.

Manhattan hosted its 74th Columbus Day Parade yesterday, led by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and including city workers and about 35,000 participants.

San Diego staged a "Columbus Day Parade of Patriotism," and more than 90 fancy floats rolled through Baltimore during the city's 114th consecutive Columbus Day Parade on Saturday.

Parades also were staged in San Francisco, Chicago, Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, among other cities.

Earlier this year, the state Senate of Colorado saw fit to commend Denver and Pueblo in an official resolution "for continuing the tradition of observing Columbus Day."

"Other communities throughout Colorado are encouraged to recognize Columbus Day with their own celebration," the resolution concluded.

Both cities have seen vigorous anti-Columbus parades and protests in the past two years.

The holiday, once an optimistic celebration of America's discovery, has been condemned by some as an archaic, "Euro-centric" holiday that demeans indigenous Americans.

Columbus - and the Spanish, Italian and Portuguese explorers who followed - were "worse than Hitler," said Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in Caracas on Saturday, noting that they triggered "the biggest invasion and genocide ever seen in the history of humanity. …