Published in The DePaulia: Monday, October 17, 2011
Monday, Oct. 10 was Columbus Day, and if it weren’t for my bank being closed, I would not have known.
As I walked past an empty school that was filled the week before with students furthering their education, I questioned the school’s productivity. What might have been taught that day? Columbus Day has been a statutory holiday since 1907. That’s 104 days of education that have been compromised.
With the day off for many people, you would think you’d hear people discussing the tradition of the celebration or at least doing something to show they understand what the holiday means. Instead, I found people overcrowding the retail stores. The only value I could find in Columbus Day, if any at all, was not in unity but in economic stimulus. Perhaps that is why the government has preserved this holiday for so long.
Some would argue that the Columbus Day parade keeps the tradition alive and the city aware. But how many people actually attend the parade? Kenneth Sanders, a junior at DePaul, says that he always misses the parade.
“I missed the parade because I went out the night before knowing I didn’t have work the next day,” Sanders said.
Landon McCarrol, a native of Columbus, Ohio, said Columbus Day was always a big deal in grade school but never at home.
“I spent most of the day in my pajamas watching cartoons,” McCarrol said. “My dad would cook and my mom would clean, but [there's] nothing unusual about that.”
Enrolled at a school that takes pride in its diversity, I was determined to find something or someone that was actually celebrating the day. I checked out DePaul’s events page, and the only events listed were an ePortfolio Teacher Workshop and a silent auction to benefit Sister Marie Therese Diang. So I hit the streets. Instead of a celebration, I found a protest that shut down Jackson Street, filled with people of all shapes and sizes looking for a better job market and demanding a change in the economy.
Other cities may have something different to say about Columbus Day, but it’s clear what Chicago had to say–we want our jobs back and we want to work. Marching through the streets, Occupy Chicago protesters are proud Americans but concerned citizens. As evidenced by the large number of protestors, it is clear we’re not interested in celebrating the birth of our nation, but rather we are troubled by its current state.