Exploration Day Gets Mixed Reviews

By McCLELLAN, Bill | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), September 24, 2012 | Go to article overview

Exploration Day Gets Mixed Reviews


McCLELLAN, Bill, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


Earlier this month, I wrote a column about three St. Louisans who are trying to change Columbus Day to Exploration Day.

The idea first came to Karl Frank when Neil Armstrong died. Frank works in information technology. He contacted his friend Tom Diehl, who is a retired fundraising consultant for nonprofit groups. Those two then got together with Rod Wright, a public relations executive.

The three have gone to a government website - We the People - and have started an online petition. If they get 25,000 signatures by Thursday, the idea will go to an appropriate agency for review.

As of Sunday afternoon, they had 1,490 signatures. It does not look good for them.

Still, they started the debate. The column elicited some interesting responses.

First came two letters from dignitaries.

"Dear Mr. McClellan: I am president of the Italian American Heritage Corp. and I would like to inform you about the Columbus Day Parade and Festival taking place on the Hill on 10-14-12.

"In spite of all the criticism and controversy, there is a deeper meaning behind Columbus Day. Columbus brought America to the attention of the growing, scientific civilizations of Western Europe. The result was the United States of America."

- Sincerely, Rio Vitale.

"Mr. McClellan: As a member and past president of the Christopher Columbus Philatelic Society, I feel it my duty to enter a strenuous objection to the proposal to change Columbus Day to Exploration Day. Outrageous!

"Why Columbus when Lief Erickson arrived 500 years earlier, you ask? Erickson didn't stick around. Columbus' discovery led to permanent settlements and then on to the Spanish conquest of most of Central and South America. Critics will point out that those conquests were brutal, genocidal and introduced slavery and European diseases to the Western Hemisphere. Well, that's right, but times were tough.

"As to this proposal by Messrs, Frank, Diehl and Wright, it just won't do. To be perfectly Frank, those guys need to find something else to celebrate. Find a new Diehl somewhere and celebrate all you like, but leave Columbus alone. It just ain't Wright! …

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