Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Eye Opener: Do We Need Columbus Day?

By Ed O'Keefe

Should the U.S. still celebrate Christopher Columbus with a holiday?

Eye Opener

Happy Monday! Most federal employees will spend Monday away from the office, celebrating the seventh of ten federal holidays they enjoy each year.

But Conor Dougherty and Sudeep Reddy of the Wall Street Journal wonder if the holiday is on the outs:

In California, Columbus Day is one of two unpaid holidays getting blown away by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as part of a budget-cut proposal. In Washington, D.C., Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid canceled this year's weeklong Columbus Day recess so the senators can buckle down on health care. (They still get Monday off, though.)
Another obstacle: Columbus Day hasn't transcended its original purpose, as some other holidays have. Sure, Columbus Day celebrates one of the world's great explorers. But Memorial Day and Labor Day also do double duty as summer's official bookends, whereas Columbus Day is stuck in mid-October, halfway between summertime and Christmas. And many Americans apparently prefer more days off around Christmas.

But Dougherty and Reddy note that "The holiday isn't under threat everywhere. New York City's longtime Columbus Day parade will still be marching up Fifth Avenue this year, as it has since 1929. The bond market takes the day off, too.


But 22 states don't give their employees the day off, according to the Council of State Governments. And in other places, Columbus Day is under attack. "We're going after state governments to drop this holiday for whatever reason they come up with," said Mike Graham, founder of United Native America, a group fighting for a federal holiday honoring Native Americans.

(Colleague Ben Pershing of Browser and Capitol Briefing fame notes that his alma matter celebrates Indigenous Peoples Day.)

Should federal employees have the option of working the second Monday in October and taking another day off instead? Should they have the holiday at all? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Cabinet and Staff News: Hillary Rodham Clinton stops in Switzerland, the U.K., Ireland and Northern Ireland on her way to Russia. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar visits California and Arizona on Monday. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack goes home to Iowa on Monday to discuss school nutrition and childhood obesity. Did National Security Adviser James Jones screw up the recent Afghanistan strategy meetings? White House Counsel Gregory Craig insists he's staying put. An Obama Labor Department nominee withdraws.

OMB to Advise Agencies on Procurement Reforms: The new guidelines will define what's "inherently governmental" and will help agencies decide what contracted work should be brought in-house and what work can be outsourced.

Insurance Providers Drop Out of Federal Employee Health Program: Some federal employees will have to choose new health plans during open season this year because their insurance providers are leaving the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program, or reducing the number of areas they cover.

New Navy Ship to Be Named for Slain Civil Rights Pioneer: The widow of Medgar Evers fought tears Friday as Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, a former Mississippi governor, announced that he was naming a new Navy supply ship for her husband.

CPSC Staff Calls for Mandatory ROV Standards: The agency staff has recommended that it set mandatory rules to regulate recreational off-highway vehicles, signaling that regulators may seek to take a tougher line on consumer-safety issues under the Obama administration.

New Chief of Patent Office Takes Aim at a Massive Backlog: David Kappos has kicked off an effort to overhaul the patent-application process, seeking to fix the backlogged and financially strapped agency and help the Obama administration earn some good will with the business community.

Obama Wanted a Petraeus. Buyer Beware.: The Post's Greg Jaffe writes that "The last thing that the White House and the Pentagon brass want is a general who can bypass the chain of command; a general who speaks directly to the president; a general who emerges as the dominant American voice on the war."

I Didn't Tell. It Didn't Matter.: Trying to serve his country, a young man faced bigotry and abuse.

Failures of Small Banks Grow, Straining FDIC: In what has become a ritual, the agency has swooped down on a handful of troubled lenders almost every Friday, seizing 98 since January alone and putting their assets into the hands of another bank.

Border Fence Requirement Is Removed: Congress has stripped a provision from a Department of Homeland Security appropriation bill that would have required 300 more miles of tall fencing along the Mexican border.

Follow The Federal Eye on Twitter | Submit your news tips here

By Ed O'Keefe  | October 12, 2009; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener, Workplace Issues  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: As Pressure Grows, Obama Addresses Gay Rights Group
Next: New Names and Job Descriptions at NOAA


In our area schools are closed on several days in September for religious holidays and open on Columbus Day. It would be friendlier if employees could swap holidays as they need them. Then parents could stay home on school holidays and work when kids are attending.

Wouldn't work for every position but it would for many.

Posted by: RedBird27 | October 12, 2009 7:10 AM | Report abuse

I'd rather get the day after Thanksgiving off.

Posted by: member8 | October 12, 2009 7:18 AM | Report abuse

do we need mlk day?

Posted by: DwightCollins | October 12, 2009 7:43 AM | Report abuse

He really didn't discover America, and he treatment of native Americans was abominable. Columbus Day should go.

Posted by: st50taw | October 12, 2009 8:00 AM | Report abuse

Did we "need" Lincoln's Birthday? Ask BO if white Lincoln and white Washington should have to split a day to allow MLK Day? Wait for the evasive, politically correct answer.

Sure, let's "ban" Columbus Day, affirming our anti-white bias.

Posted by: fdffjdjjf-0999--88888 | October 12, 2009 8:01 AM | Report abuse

Mullen should resign.

Posted by: gary4books | October 12, 2009 8:08 AM | Report abuse

I think there couldn't be a more American holiday than having a four day weekend around Thanksgiving. Make Columbus Day the day after Thanksgiving. Most people take the day off anyway. This way it would be official. Plus, it really is a holiday anyway - Black Friday - with all the shopping done, this would drive the economy going into the Christmas season. As it is, the day is just a blah day off.

Posted by: paduck | October 12, 2009 8:32 AM | Report abuse

Not only do we need Columbus Day, but we need one for Leif Erickson and that Chinese guy. And what about Washington's birthday? We've has 43 other presidents too.

Posted by: spidey103 | October 12, 2009 8:54 AM | Report abuse

If Columbus was alive today, he'd be tried for crimes against humanity. Columbus Day should be axed or replaced by a day of reflection on the sins committed by Europeans as they seized control of the "New World".

Posted by: newageblues | October 12, 2009 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Everybody want's a day off... so why not call it monday.

Posted by: whocares666 | October 12, 2009 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Local government here, didn't get the day off. We get the day after Thanksgiving instead.

Posted by: futbolclif | October 12, 2009 9:28 AM | Report abuse

As a letter carrier with the USPS I'd prefer that we work. My workload after Columbus Day (and all other Monday holidays) is staggering. Takeaway Columbus Day and President's Day and give me two personal days to be taken at my option instead. The USPS would save a fortune in overtime with this simple change and business customers wouldn't suffer.

Posted by: carl_owen | October 12, 2009 9:36 AM | Report abuse

If Columbus was alive today, he'd be tried for crimes against humanity. Columbus Day should be axed or replaced by a day of reflection on the sins committed by Europeans as they seized control of the "New World".

Posted by: newageblues | October 12, 2009 9:05 AM

If Columbus "were" alive today, he'd be heckled and scorned by posers and hypocrites who love their ipods, telephones, internet, pcs, autos, refrigerators, etc. etc. but who can nonetheless feel good about themselves as they wag a finger at where it all started. If you don't like the eurocentric nature of the U.S., then go live in a country that has never been torn apart by warring factions. American Indians, Europeans, Arabs, Africans, Asians, you name it -- all have fought, and all have conquered or been vanquished at one time or other. Columbus merely sailed (bravely - you go ahead and cross the Atlantic in leaky ship with just a compass and a knowledge of constellations) at a time when many others were ready to follow.

If you want to begin shedding the hypocrisy, start with your moniker.

Posted by: semitone | October 12, 2009 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Columbus Day, should not be a National Holiday. Because it basically affects commerce. We need to analyze, all of our declared
National Holidays, and review each one, for necessity of "We the People". What is best for our country? We must work harder to pull our country ahead, and not lag-behind.

Posted by: BocaVal | October 12, 2009 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Columbus Day is a day off for relatively few in the work force and of those, very few actually observe the day as originally intended. The overwhelming majority of people, should they wish to celebrate the day, are required to take off work using personal time or go unpaid. That doesn't sound much like a national holiday to me.

Posted by: bdkisok | October 12, 2009 10:04 AM | Report abuse

How about renaming Columbus Day to Michael Jackson Day. The media is still talking about the King of Pop. I don't worship Columbus and sure don't worship MJ. Hey, isn't the root word for Holiday, Holy Day? Maybe we should cease all holidays under the guise of "Separation of State from Church [religion]. Why not start celebrating Socialist Holy Days. Like Environmental Remembrance Day. We can keep Labor Day but rename it Union Workers Day to separate them from White Collar Managers. Easter, a Christian Holy Day can be May Day and Christmas can be Yuletide. I bet the ACLU would want a special day and maybe we should start celebrating Obama Day.

Posted by: Warrior07 | October 12, 2009 10:26 AM | Report abuse

It is a great mystery why anyone would celebrate a notorious sadist who tortured Native American in very inhumane modes (pun intended) and a national holiday results. Maybe Dick Chaney would agree that is is senseless and should be discontinued; Columbus was not first to these shores, was not a great thinker and shunned in Spain. Business suffers at a time it should be rebounding after the hijacking by the wealthy and empowered, unnecessarily.

Posted by: robjen116 | October 12, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse

The real meaning of Columbus Day is the qualities that made him great. These qualities are very much needed today as we press on thru the economic disaster of 2008. As Lyndon B. Johnson said in 1965 before going to the moon, "qualities of daring, imagination, determination, and courage... They drew the pilgrims to these shores...and now they urge us to explore the heavens."

Posted by: FredMarlow | October 12, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse


It's Columbus Day! The 37th holiest day of the year. The day we celebrate the much hallowed voyage of Christopher Columbus who sailed the ocean blue in 1492, to Discover America.

Screw Columbus! "Discovered" America? You can't wander into someone's backyard and start discovering stuff. I remember as a child, I tried to "discover" some apples from the tree in Mrs. Johnson's back yard. After Mrs. Johson told my mom, I discovered an ass-beating that American historians still talk about to this day. They should put that on a calendar!

Chris was looking for India and instead found what is known today as America, and just started calling the people there, Indians. You don't go out on a blind date with Stephanie, show up at the wrong house, take out Shirley instead and keep calling her Stephanie all night. "Please stop calling me Stephanie, and how did you get into my house?" "Shut up Stephanie! I discovered this blind date and I'll call you whatever I please! Now, do you want to drive to the movies in the Nina, the Pinta or the Ford Taurus?"

For centuries, cultures knew the earth was round, so I don't know where that came from. Only thing Columbus really proved is that he didn't know his head from his ass and he was pretty darn good at genocide. "Ewwww gross Indians are icky. Let's totally kill em and take their land and stuff. Won't that be sooo awesome?"

So on October 12th, I will commemorate Columbus Day the same way I do every year. By making a bunch of wrong turns and giving some Native Americans smallpox.

Happy Holidays Everybody!

love chris davis

Posted by: christopherozdavis | October 12, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Today is "Native American Day" in South Dakota.

Discovered: New painting of Columbus.


Posted by: MikeLicht | October 12, 2009 1:17 PM | Report abuse

I agree that Columbus Day is outdated. A Native American Heritage Day would be welcomed by this German! It is a tiny step toward rectifying all the ills the "discovery" brought about.

Posted by: Katrat | October 12, 2009 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Well, I either didn't get any mail or did not get it delivered. Whatever the reason, the Federal employees' whose salaries are higher than Mt everest, are not taking any part in the 'mandatory furlough days" as those State employees, whose salaries are lower than low.
If the federal employee who is reading this is offended, please don't take it personally, you are probably one of the very few who are a " career" employee and will most likely enjoy retirement in about two years, when you're 55.
If you were at the office this afternoon and answered your own phone, then why don't you just work the entire day?
If your arm is killing you then go see the doctor

Posted by: ladynblack56 | October 12, 2009 7:53 PM | Report abuse

Re: Saving the Columbus Day recognition.
Maybe if we could get Al Gore to declare that he "found" America, it would become popular again.

Posted by: callifeadvocates | October 12, 2009 8:10 PM | Report abuse

@ ladynblack56... you sound like a disgruntled ex-fed worker, or one that can't qualify and gotta show your attitude to the world on a public new forum...

And yes, I enjoyed my day off...

Posted by: darbyohara | October 13, 2009 7:42 AM | Report abuse

"Do we need MLK day?"
Good God in heaven.
You really can't compare the two.

In Chicago, back when I was growing up, we had Lincoln Day AND Washington Day, two separate days. Maybe that was too much on the employer, to pay for two free days in the same week.

"Anti-white bias". Are you saying we shouldn't just tell the facts? It has nothing to do with "anti-white bias". It has to do with celebrating a man who, like MOST men, got lost and didn't ask for directions. It's like having "Paula Abdul Day" because she ended up at the mall in NY when she was actually headed for Paris.

Posted by: chgosatrap | October 13, 2009 9:37 AM | Report abuse

As watchers of the Soprano's know, it's not smart to mess with Columbus Day. Many of those we honor, including explorers and our founding fathers, had beliefs and characteristics that were popular at the time but most of us have outgrown over the centuries because we found them biased and intolerant. We still honor these people for the positive things they did.

Posted by: bigtom6156 | October 13, 2009 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Nope not a former fed empl just another government worker who is mandated to use one furlough day per month. Actually I have a better attitude than most. My pal who makes the big dough at the fra deserves every penny made because it's a career choice.
For the record, it's called freedom of speech. So build a bridge and get over yourself. I have.

Posted by: ladynblack56 | October 14, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company