Christmas? Memorial Day? It Does Not Matter. It is Simply a Day Off.

Members of the board of education in a township in the state of New Jersey voted unanimously to remove the names of all holidays from the school calendar and simply replace them as “Days Off” in response to an uproar which occurred over social media channels a few weeks ago in response to the board changing of the name of the Columbus Day holiday on the school calendar to Indigenous People’s Day at a meeting on Thursday, May 13, 2021.

Christmas? Memorial Day? It Does Not Matter. It is Simply a Day Off.

The changing of the name Columbus Day set off a firestorm in the township — which is located in northern New Jersey approximately 40 miles west northwest of New York — and resulted in a barrage of telephone calls and e-mail messages to members of the board of education as well as a crowded turnout for a meeting which occurred on Thursday, June 10, 2021.

Many of the speakers gave impassioned pleas and told personal stories, as they explained the meaning and importance of Columbus Day to Italian Americans, while others argued and debated the truth or falsehood of how some historians have painted Columbus in a negative light. The general sentiment from all revolved around the symbolism of Columbus representing a bridge to the new world and how the holiday is a way to recognize and honor contributions of Italian Americans to the United States”, according to this article written by Christopher Manderioli of TAP Into Randolph. “Others, including former RHS student Chiara Ricupero, educated the board and the public on the long history of Italian discrimination, including the fact that the single largest Lynching in American history saw eleven Italian men killed by a racist mob in New Orleans in 1891. She also shared that Italians were put in internment camps during WWII just like the Japanese, yet that information is not part of the school’s history curriculum.”

The decision to change all of the holidays to simply a “day off” shocked those who were left in attendance — according to the aforementioned article — “after many others had walked out or been asked to leave by security from a raucous public audience that had reached 125 people at one point.”

Reaction has been vociferous — to say the least — if gauged by the tone of messages which were posted on Twitter.

The legacy of Christopher Columbus — who has been simplistically credited with “discovering America” — has been under scrutiny in recent years due to the way he allegedly mistreated people who were indigenous to the North American continent.

“Christopher Columbus did not ‘discover’ the Americas, nor was he even the first European to visit the ‘New World.’ (Viking explorer Leif Erikson had sailed to Greenland and Newfoundland in the 11th century.), according to this article which is posted at History.com. “Today, Columbus has a controversial legacy—he is remembered as a daring and path-breaking explorer who transformed the New World, yet his actions also unleashed changes that would eventually devastate the native populations he and his fellow explorers encountered.”

Believed to have been born in Genoa in Italy, Christopher Columbus is considered a hero among Americans of Italian descent — which is one reason why many of them do not want to see what they view as his legacy erased in the form of removing the name Columbus Day from the holiday which is celebrated on October 12 every year on the anniversary of the date in 1492 when the explorer arrived at what is now known as North America and South America when he actually was seeking an alternative route to the Far East for spices.

Some states in the United States celebrate Native American Day in late September; while other states already have replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous People’s Day.

Summary

I thought that the purpose of the board of education is a corporate body — whose members are elected by residents of the community — which oversees and manages the affairs, personnel, and properties of a public school district. Members of the board of education in Randolph overreached over the naming of the official school holidays, in my opinion.

I believe that the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic — which forced millions of people to be isolated from the world for months — had an ironic side effect of increasing intolerance among people when given the recent onslaught of awareness of people who have had a history of inequality…

…and as people are starting to embark upon travel again, I am hoping that the zealous overcorrection of ersatz political correctness wanes with the osmosis of education one experiences when visiting different cultures in different lands. After all, people do not usually go through the expense, effort, and time to travel just to be in a place which is similar or identical to where they are based.

I have always believed that travel is the great equalizer; the best education from which one can learn about different people, cultures, food, religions, and rituals; and is among the best experiences one can have in a lifetime.

I rented a car twice from Avis in Abu Dhabi in 2015 — this article documents on what you need to know about renting a car from Avis in Abu Dhabi — and I was subsequently wished a happy Eid-Al Adha from the staff at Avis in the United Arab Emirates via an e-mail message…

…and I was not offended.

In fact, I smiled, as I found it thoughtful that they included me in their wishes pertaining to a holy day in Islam — not that they knew whether or not I was Muslim, which I am not.

The reason why I bring up this topic is because I have witnessed instances of where people would be offended if they were wished a Merry Christmas even though they are not a member of any denomination of the Christian faith, as an example. Their reasoning is usually that of perceived ignorance that the greeter should know of the religious beliefs of that person; when all the greeter is usually trying to do is simply spread some genuine joy and cheer.

As a society, we need to do three things to help this world become a better place for as many people as possible:

  • We need to stop doing things which only cause more division and not foster real unity.
  • We need to celebrate our differences and learn more from each other instead of offending each other.
  • We need to ensure that history is recited accurately and to ensure that atrocities never again occur.

Imagery ©2021 Landsat / Copernicus, Maxar Technologies, USDA Farm Service Agency, Map data ©2021 courtesy of Google Maps.

4 thoughts on “Christmas? Memorial Day? It Does Not Matter. It is Simply a Day Off.”

  1. cr says:

    I’ll say one thing about local boards of education. People who didn’t give a shit about Board make-up before now realize voting is a civic duty and does make a difference. That’s a good thing.

  2. Jacob says:

    Thank you for your post. It is very disturbing to me how intolerant so many people are about the differences between us. I am not a Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu etc, and would not be at all offended if people wished me Happy (…name of holiday…) in celebration of a Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu holiday etc. I’m not Jewish whatsoever but I am totally fine if someone where to wish me Happy Hannukah. I don’t see why people would be offended with good wishes from someone. It doesn’t hurt me in any way.

  3. derek says:

    Interesting post on this Dragon Boat Festival holiday, which is a public holiday in Taiwan! I heard it on Bloomberg TV news when it was said that financial markets are closed in Taiwan today (14th).

    If the school board marks it as “day off”, then there is no good reason why the day off has to be on December 25th and Thanksgiving. Make the teachers and school board work on Thanksgiving by moving the day off!

    The school board forgot that even if they change the name of the day, the date and holiday still persists. They could call Columbus Day a different name, like the “Hitler Appreciation and Love Dachau Day” and Columbus Day would still exist.

  4. CHRIS says:

    This is what many of you wanted. Why the long face?

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