President Trump in his proclamation on Columbus Day sent a message to all Americans. The day honors and celebrates the great navigator – period! He did not pander to the left by including a mention of Native Americans. The federal holiday honoring the great explorer Christopher Columbus has become increasingly controversial. Hopefully the President’s message will resonate with Americans. This day is and should always remain a day to celebrate the man who courageously opened the gateway of Western Civilization to the New World. In a review of the proclamations made by some of our recent Presidents, there are obvious differences of opinions of these leaders of the free world.
Clinton’s Brief Mention of Native Americans
Former President Bill Clinton noted that Columbus’ journey was historically significant, but in more than one way “The encounters between Columbus and other European explorers and the native peoples of the Western Hemisphere also underscore what can happen when cultures clash and when we are unable to understand and respect people who are different from us,” he wrote in his last proclamation in 2000.
Bush Focuses on Close Ties to Italy
For most of his time in office, George W. Bush primarily addressed how Columbus’ journey sparked the “close ties” between the U.S. and Italy and how the countries continued to work together. In 2001, in his first Columbus Day proclamation, the President wrote about how the explorer’s historic journey connected the continents separated by geographic, religious and cultural barriers. He did not mention specifically the Native Americans who resided in the lands.
In his first year in office in 2009, then President Barack Obama noted how Columbus’ journey revealed new lands for European nations. Yet Obama noted how the European immigrants joined the “thriving indigenous communities who suffered great hardships as a result of the changes to the land they inhabited.” That was the first specific mention of Native Americans in the proclamation in eight years, but it really begged the question – who was the proclamation for and was it necessary to present the concept of Western Civilization and progress as hardships? The President seemed to miss the point that suffering existed on many levels as the young nation began to develop.
In his 2016 proclamation, Obama became more specific about the plight of Native Americans. Obama urged Americans to “Acknowledge the pain and suffering reflected in the stories of Native Americans who had long resided” before Europeans crossed the Atlantic Ocean to search for a new life.
Trump Reveals an Informed Position
President Trump’s position reveals the most informed position of any recent President regarding the great navigator and his importance, not only to Americans, but to all civilization. Rather than mentioning Native Americans, the President instead focused on the U.S. relationship with Italy and the importance of the Italian American community. “There can be no doubt that American culture, business and civic life would all be much less vibrant in the absence of the Italian American community,” wrote the President. “We also take this opportunity to reaffirm our close ties to Columbus’ country of birth, Italy. Italy is a strong ally and a valued partner in promoting peace and promoting prosperity around the world.”
Below is the Columbus Day proclamation by President Trump
Five hundred and twenty-five years ago, Christopher Columbus completed an ambitious and daring voyage across the Atlantic Ocean to the Americas. The voyage was a remarkable and then-unparalleled feat that helped launch the age of exploration and discovery. The permanent arrival of Europeans to the Americas was a transformative event that undeniably and fundamentally changed the course of human history and set the stage for the development of our great Nation. Therefore, on Columbus Day, we honor the skilled navigator and man of faith, whose courageous feat brought together continents and has inspired countless others to pursue their dreams and convictions – even in the face of extreme doubt and tremendous adversity.
More than five centuries after his initial voyage, we remember the “Admiral of the Ocean Sea” for building the critical first link in the strong and enduring bond between the United States and Europe. While Isabella I and Ferdinand II of Spain sponsored his historic voyage, Columbus was a native of the City of Genoa, in present day Italy and represents the rich history of important Italian American contributions to our great Nation. There can be no doubt that American culture, business and civic life would all be much less vibrant in the absence of the Italian American community. We also take this opportunity to reaffirm our close ties to Columbus’ country of birth, Italy. Italy is a strong ally and a valued partner in promoting peace and promoting prosperity around the world.
In commemoration of Christopher Columbus’ historic voyage, the Congress, by joint resolution of April 30, 1934 and modified in 1968 (36 U.S.C. 107), as amended, has requested the President proclaim the second Monday of October of each year as “Columbus Day.”
Now, therefore, I, Donald J. Trump, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim October 9, 2017, as Columbus Day. I call upon the people of the United States to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities. I also direct that the flag of the United States be displayed on all public buildings on the appointed day in honor of our diverse history and all who have contributed to shaping this Nation.
In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this sixth day of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand seventeen and of the Independence of the United States of America, the two hundred and forty-second.