Today is a day that brings another debate to our country: Celebrate the Indigenous people who inhabited our country first or Christopher Columbus who brought Europeans here in 1492? The issue of course lies in the extensive genocide that followed during the colonization of the Americas. This debate comes just shortly after the questions over the civil war monuments, making it even more heated. How do we balance remembering history with while acknowledging that much of our history involves significant loss of life – in our case, loss of Americans’ lives.
In any other country, people are more alike than in ours and so battles won, even at the loss of life, are often celebrated as a ‘win’. But winning in our case also means many of our people lost their lives. So how do we settle this? How do we move forward?
My son said it quite well – he said, “Mom, it has to do with what the focus of the celebration is. If we are celebrating someone for something good they did, then that is ok. But if we are celebrating someone who is known for pain and suffering, then we need to put that in a museum.”
So today, I’ve chosen a middle ground. Of course I want to remember and honor the indigenous people of our country. They deserve the recognition as the first to be here, the true Native Americans. I can also understand the celebration of Columbus discovering this continent while acknowledging that what followed – the way they colonized – was not with respect of our original inhabitants. In other words, I can honor one deed while not condoning another.
The way I choose to honor both the Native Americans and Columbus is by focusing on the positive outcome that ultimately surfaced for our country: we are land that is free and brave and diverse. I know how we got here is not the most diplomatic route but I cannot change the past. I can only channel the energy and look to the future.
So, in the spirit of our original ancestors and our ancestors that arrived – not only with Columbus but every other immigrant that followed – I created what I’m calling Unite America Command Central (UACC).
It’s a room in my house dedicated to the work I am doing to unify this diverse, creative, and amazing country. If we are going to continue, our people must come together, we must unite. In the wise words of another exceptional American:
“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’” – MLK, Jr.