Beginning in 1934, Presidents have declared the second Monday of each October to be Columbus Day. The presidential proclamation, until recently, often directed that the United States Flag be flown on all public buildings on this day in honor of Christopher Columbus. This particular directive to fly the flag in honor of Christopher Columbus was issued by Presidents, regardless of political party. Consider the following presidential directives for every President serving since Congress’ creation of Columbus Day:
Franklin D. Roosevelt directed that public buildings shall display the flag “as a mark of respect to his [Columbus] memory.” Harry Truman directed that public buildings shall display the flag “in honor of the man whose discovery gave democracy a new birthplace.” Dwight D. Eisenhower directed that public buildings shall display the flag “in honor of Christopher Columbus.” John F. Kennedy directed the flag be flown to “mark the anniversary” of Columbus’ “discovery of America.” Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Jerry Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan all directed the flag shall be flown “in memory of Christopher Columbus.” Similarly, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush all directed the flag be flown “in honor of Christopher Columbus.”
While in 2010 and 2011, President Obama directed the flag be flown “in honor of Christopher Columbus”, the President stealthily halted this practice on today’s Columbus Day observations. For the first time since the creation of Columbus Day, a President has directed the flag be flown on Columbus Day “in honor of our diverse history and all who have contributed to shaping this Nation” rather than in honor of Christopher Columbus.
All of us should appreciate our diverse history and be thankful for the millions of people who came before us, shaping this nation. Yet, the decision to clearly stop the practice of distinctly celebrating Christopher Columbus’ voyage on Columbus Day demands an explanation.