Sunday, October 12, 2014



San Salvador (JFK+50) Christopher Columbus, sailing on behalf of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain, made landfall 522 years ago today, October 12, 1492, after a long voyage across the Atlantic Ocean.

Columbus, born in Genoa, Italy, went ashore and claimed the land for the Spanish Crown.  He named the island, which he believed to be somewhere off the coast of the East Indies, San Salvador or Holy Savior.

Columbus actually had landed in the Bahamas but since the existence of the Americas was unknown at the time, he incorrectly assumed he was somewhere off the coast of Asia.

Christopher Columbus
By Sebastiano del Piombo (1519)

In a scene from the television movie "Mayflower, The Pilgrim Adventure," one of the men aboard the ship makes this comment...

"Columbus did not know where he was going.  He did not know where he was when he got there.  He did not know where he had been when he returned."

The man who is credited with the discovery of America is honored in our Nation's Capital by the Christopher Columbus Memorial Fountain at Union Station.

The Memorial was dedicated in 1912 and the dedication ceremony, held on June 8, was attended by President William Howard Taft.

Columbus Memorial Fountain
Washington, D.C.
Photo by John White (2011)

The project was the work of American sculptor Lorado Taft and architect Daniel Burnham. The fountain was designed by Frederick MacMonnies.

The inscription on the memorial reads:

"To The Memory of Christopher Columbus Whose High Faith and Indomitable Courage Gave To Mankind a New World."

The Memorial is located at Massachusetts Avenue and 1st Street.


Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) President John F. Kennedy spoke at a ceremony in honor of Columbus Day, 51 years ago today, October 12, 1963.

The ceremony was held at 10 a.m. in the Flower Garden at the White House here in the Nation's Capital.

The ceremony was attended by Rear Admiral Samuel Eliot Morrison, historian and leader of the Harvard-Columbus Expedition of 1939-40 and Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare Anthony J. Celebrezze.

The President said...

"I think Columbus has been a fascinating figure to me...partly because of his extraordinary skill as a navigator.  Admiral Morison who...once followed Columbus' trip...found that...every marking along the Caribbean and the Central American coast as recorded in Columbus' diary was found to  be exact with all of the modern instruments of navigation we now have."

JFK continued....

"I would think Columbus would have to be considered the foremost sailor not of his time but, I think, in history.  All of us who have followed the great navigator to the United States have prospered and benefited." 

       Columbus Discovers America
       October 12, 1492
     By Dioscoro Teofilo Puebla Tolin
  Library of Congress Image (1892)

In 1892, on the 400th anniversary of the discovery of America, President Benjamin Harrison called upon the people to celebrate.

Columbus Day was declared a Federal holiday in the U.S. in 1937. Angelo Noce, a 1st generation Italian of Denver, Colorado, lobbied for the holiday. 

The day is celebrated in the Bahamas as "Discovery Day," and in Spain as "Fiesta Nacional."


Lexington, Virginia (JFK+50) Confederate General Robert Edward Lee, considered by military historians to be the best military officer on either side during the American Civil War,  passed away at his home 144 years ago today, October 12, 1870, here in Lexington.

Lee, born at Stafford Hall, Virginia in 1807, was 63 years old.

General Lee, a graduate of West Point, turned down President Abraham Lincoln's offer to command United States troops in the Civil War.

Lee explained to the President that he could not "raise his sword" against his native state of Virginia.

Then, in 1861, when Virginia seceded from the Union, Lee resigned from the Army of the United States to join the Army of the Confederacy.

Robert E. Lee Monument
Lexington, Virginia
Photo by Jan Kronsell (2000)