Holiday also can mark our progress

Another Columbus Day has come and gone, accompanied by more calls to replace it with an Indigenous Peoples Day and, while we’re at it, remove those statues and memorials to the famed — or infamous — Italian explorer.

To be sure, Native Americans have legitimate reason to object to the holiday, as well as the monuments. True, pre-Columbian life in the Americas — or whatever one might call the continents now named after a cartographer — was no Garden of Eden. Slavery and human sacrifice occurred. But until the late 15th century, it was their garden.

But eliminating the memory of the navigator due to his impact as a colonizer would ignore the enormous change Columbus’ voyages brought to the world, new and old. It also would miss an opportunity to illustrate how much humanity has changed in the ensuing centuries.

Few historical figures are saintly; this especially is apparent when applying 21st century morality to a person who lived 500 years ago. But an historically accurate account of Christopher Columbus and his venture westward can be used to highlight the progress made over the past five centuries.

Some cities already have begun changing the name of the holiday that commemorates Columbus’ landfall on Oct. 12, 1492. But his voyage changed history in a significant way, and that just cannot be disregarded.