What struck me most about the Santa Maria was how tiny she is. A replica sailed into Portland Harbor last month, and I paid $10 to go aboard and look around. More astonishing still was remembering that the Nina and the Pinta — the two caravels sailing with the Santa Maria — were even smaller. There’s only one enclosed space on the biggest ship, and that was where the captain slept. Its 52 crew members slept on the open deck of the 117-foot ship, only going below with the cargo when the weather was bad.

Americans my age were taught to revere Christopher Columbus for his intrepid maritime leadership sailing across uncharted waters, holding a mutinous crew together and discovering what we call America. Now, schoolchildren are taught that Columbus was a money-grubbing, European, white guy who slaughtered and enslaved innocent Native Americans who only wanted to help him and his men. When Democrats took over Maine government in 2018, they abolished Columbus Day and ordered Maine citizens to celebrate “Indigenous Peoples’ Day” instead.

Not only that, schoolchildren are now taught that Columbus was too dumb to know he had bumped into two previously unknown continents and thought he was in the Indies. So, he called the people he found “Indians,” and they continued to be called that for the next five centuries until progressives insisted they be called Native Americans. Whenever I meet someone who is a real American Indian, and looks nothing like Sen. Elizabeth Warren, I ask whether he or she wishes to be called Indian or Native American. So far, all have said, “Indian.” Next time I’ll also ask: “How about calling yourself ‘Indigenous Person’?” But I think I know what the answer will be.

In light of all this, I wonder if I should be wishing people “Happy Indigenous People s’ Day” over the weekend in Maine, and “Happy Columbus Day” in New Hampshire since I’m so often driving back and forth across the state line. Will automobile dealerships in Maine be putting on special Indigenous Peoples’ Day Sales? Is it now illegal to sponsor a “Special Columbus Day Sale” over here on Maine’s side of the border?

Since no drawings or plans of the original Santa Maria exist, we cannot know how closely the ship I explored compared to it. All I can say is that it represents the closest guess of what it probably looked like based on other ships in use at the time. I have to wonder if the Spanish crew members knew about what happened in Maine when Democrats returned to power. Would they have sailed right on by Portland, Maine, if they knew?

I didn’t see any left-wing demonstrators down there on Commercial Street while I was touring the ship, and it doesn’t take much to get them cranked up enough to staple signs to sticks and march down the street chanting. I expected the arrival of Columbus’ ship would have been enough to turn them out. Doing research for this article, I learned that a replica of Nina sank last April in Corpus Christi, Texas, but the articles I read said nothing about foul play and the ship was eventually refloated.

The City of Portland had earlier (2017) abolished Columbus Day before the whole state did it in 2019, but I don’t recall seeing any Indigenous People celebrating the new holiday, and I’m often there during the second Monday of October. Come to think of it, I never saw any Spanish Americans or Italian Americans (Columbus was Italian) celebrating when it was called Columbus Day either. I do see people celebrating other holidays like the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving and Christmas, but those last two are threatened by progressives as well. The Pilgrims, after all, were also white Europeans. Progressive groups are now claiming that Thanksgiving is “celebrating ongoing genocide.”

And of course, Christmas has been under siege by the left for decades now. Public schools no longer mention the word, calling it “winter holiday” instead. People paying homage to political correctness are hesitant to say, “Merry Christmas” outside their own household, and wish people “Happy Holidays.” It all makes me wonder: what’s next? Labor Day? The diminishing number of unionized workers still mark the occasion, but most of our populace gives it a big ho-hum.

Memorial Day is celebrated, and we’ve all known soldiers who have died in recent wars. That holiday should be safe, and Veteran’s Day, too. Martin Luther King Day? It’s still relatively new so I guess it’ll be OK for a while. I have come to believe most Americans care much more about getting a paid holiday off from work than whatever it is that day is supposed to commemorate.

It’ll be up to the Spanish now to decide whether they’ll pay future voyages of the Santa Maria to Portland.

 

Tom McLaughlin lives in Lovell, Maine. He can be reached on his website at tommclaughlin.blogspot.com.

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