Patriotic American organizations carried on the tradition, dating back to 1912, of honoring the memory of the discoverer of the New World at the Columbus Monument outside Washington, DC’s, Union Station, Monday.
The political climate surrounding the federal Columbus Day holiday and the memory of the man who sailed across the Atlantic did nothing to dampen the spirit of those who gathered to mark his achievements and significance.
“The only thing different was the weather,” J.P. McCusker, President of the National Christopher Columbus Association (NCCA) told Breitbart News, downplaying the impact of the recent controversies over Columbus’s legacy.
McCusker was also unfazed by calls by Antifa and other left-wing groups to disrupt what they wish to re-christen “Indigenous Peoples’ Day,” despite Park Service Police having told him they were stepping up security around Washington in light of recent vandalism incidents. “They’re trying to take history and rewrite it … they’re trying to make the heroes of yesterday the villains of today,” McCusker said of Columbus Day opponents.
The NCCA played the leading role in putting on the annual ceremony and was joined by, among others, the National Park Service, the Knights of Columbus, the Order Sons of Italy in America, the National Italian American Foundation, and the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution.
Statements were given by President Donald Trump and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser in recognition and support of the Columbus Day holiday for the crowd in front of the monument. A local Fairfax County, Virginia, high schooler read her contest-winning essay on hardships Columbus faced on his history-changing voyage without the benefit of modern maritime technology. The groups involved, as well as the ambassadors of Italy and Spain, where Columbus began his journey, later laid wreaths.
In recent weeks, the NCCA felt it necessary to launch a new website defending the legacy of Columbus in light of the escalation of the far-left’s campaign against traditional American history. McCusker told Breitbart News there was a “marked increase” in anti-Columbus agitation. “Columbus has been coming under attack for the last few years,” he said. “The oldest statue of Columbus in the world, in Baltimore, was vandalized, and we see other statues being vandalized.”
“We wanted to take the offensive. In years gone by we’ve been on the defensive,” McCusker explained. “When they’re accusing Columbus of genocide? He didn’t commit genocide. He’s accused of starting slavery. Slavery was in [the Americas] long before Columbus was … He’s being accused of things that just didn’t happen.”
McCusker preferred to focus on the undisputed, remarkable achievement that made Columbus famous and the American nation possible. “When he set sail, there were no navigational charts. He set out into the blue convinced that if he sailed west, he could get to the east … he brought to this hemisphere Christianity and he brought the Europeans … he started something that’s become the greatest country in the world.”
“We have nothing against the indigenous citizens,” McCusker concluded. “They want their day; we’re all for it. We just don’t want them to take Columbus Day.”