Dupree wants to know, what is your stance on Columbus Day?

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If you are a fan of the movie “You, Me and Dupree,” then you will remember the scene when Dupree, played by Owen Wilson, is going through various job interviews and during one promising interveiw he asks about the company’s stance on holidays – specifically Columbus Day.

Dupree: “…Like I don’t live to work, it’s more the other way around. I work to live. Incidentally, what’s your policy on Columbus Day?”
Interviewer: “We work.”
Dupree: “Really? The guy discovered the new world. I’m afraid to even ask about Victory Over Japan Day.”

Clearly Dupree is part of the group of people who celebrate and recognize Columbus Day for what it represents – Italian explorer Christopher Columbus’ discovery of the Americas on October 12, 1492. Dupree is not the only person, real or fictional, that observes Columbus Day. In 1937, the United States government first recognized Columbus Day as an official holiday after Colorado became the first state to officially recognize Columbus’ discovery in 1906.

Colorado may have been the first state to officially recognize Columbus Day, but as far back as 1792 New York City and other U.S. cities celebrated the 300th anniversary of Columbus’ landing in the New World. Since 1971, the holiday has been fixed on the second Monday of October. Although Columbus’ discovery took place on October 12, this year the holiday is observed on October 10.Christopher Columbus Statue

Evident in Dupree’s interaction with the interviewer, not everybody chooses to celebrate Columbus Day. Unlike other fixed, Monday holidays, such as Memorial Day, Labor Day or Veteran’s Day, Columbus Day rarely results in the day off from work or school; unless, of course, you are a government employee. One of the reasons many people choose to not recognize Columbus Day is because of the circumstances surrounding his discovery.

True, as far as Europe, Asia and Africa were concerned, he “discovered” what would become North and South America. That being said, the celebrating of Columbus Day is somewhat controversial because of the displacement and removal of Native Americans. Because of this dissent toward Columbus Day, two states do not observe the national holiday – Hawaii and South Dakota. Instead, Hawaii observes Discoverer’s Day, which commemorates the Polynesian discoverers of Hawaii and South Dakota celebrates the day as officially a state holiday known as “Native American Day” rather than Columbus Day.

Throughout Central and South America, other countries observe the discovery of the ‘New’ World through holidays that do not bear Columbus’ name. Día de la Raza, or Day of the [Hispanic] Race, is celebrated in many countries in Latin America, Discovery Day is celebrated in the Bahamas, Día de la Hispanidad and Fiesta Nacional in Spain and Día de las Américas (Day of the Americas) is celebrated in Uruguay. For most Latin American observances of the holiday, the celebration focuses less on Columbus’ discovery and more on the people already living on the land Columbus discovered.

Regardless of your stance on Columbus Day or whether you believe Columbus “discovered” the Americas, Columbus Day can be used as a teaching tool for youth or a reminder for adults that nearly all Americans were originally immigrants that most likely never would have made it to North or South America without Columbus’ expedition.

For those who wish to learn more about Columbus Day but would rather do so in a fun way rather than just reading an article check out, where you can access lesson plans, stories and other fun activities related to Columbus Day.

It’s been 511 years since Columbus’ sailed the ocean blue and our country exists almost directly as a result of his discovery. Therefore the San Diego Entertainer and Dupree want to ask you: What is your stance on Columbus Day?

Image courtesy ConspiracyofHappiness via Flickr and the video courtesy an032nv via YouTube.

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