Columbus must have had a better press agent than the others, because I don’t recall Lief Erikson at all in the third grade geography books Sister Edna used at Chicago Southside’s St. Florian’s Grammar School.
Lief Erikson, Viking America Discoverer Runner-up .
(Not As Important As Father Kulinski.)
If Lief didn’t make it to print as a contender for America’s Discoverer, the Irish monk, Brendan the Navigator, and the Chinese Admiral, Zhen He, had a snowball’s chance in hell (or the tropics) of landing that honor. Currach artifacts and authenticated maps could stretch across the uncharted seas and back, but in the 1950’s Christopher owned October 12th.
St. Brendan The Navigator, Irish America Discoverer Contender.
(Not As Important As Father Kulinski Even Though He’s A Saint.)
St. Florian’s students celebrated Columbus Day by not going to school. (If he were a saint, we would have had a church procession.) If the twelfth fell on a weekend, students were SOL. You were expected to celebrate on your own time. As a third grader I knew Columbus’s discovery was important and true because of that free day. With my eight-year-old logic I deducted that since we had Father Kulinski’s (our monsignor) birthday off, and he was important and true, then so must be Columbus.
Admiral Zheng He, Dead Chinese Explorer In Line To Claim America Discovery Honors.
(Also Not As Important As Father Kulinski.)
Later in life I abandoned the Father Kulinski birthday logic and gave Lief his due. Then
Zheng He’s and Brendan the Navigator’s stories surfaced. Apparently a line of dead explorers formed to receive the honor.
In the end I decided that October 12th celebrates a collaborative discovery effort. I’m grateful to Christopher and Zheng and Lief and Brendan for a free day.
Bering Land Bridge That None Of The Aforementioned Explorers Hiked.
It is especially appropriate when October 12th falls during an Indian summer since the Native Americans were really the first explorers to cross the Bering Land Bridge and discover America.
Indian Summer The Best Way To Celebrate October 12th.