This Monday, October 14th is Columbus Day, one of ten federal holidays recognized nationwide by the United States Government. It’s a holiday celebrated every second Monday of October, and has been a federal holiday since 1937. There won’t be any mail delivered that day, as all non-essential federal government offices are closed.
The Wayne Township Trustee Office will be open, however. For several years now we have remained open on Columbus Day and on the February holiday of President’s Day, and we make up for that by giving our staff two other days of the year off—the Friday after Thanksgiving and a day either before or after Christmas. As it has always been my understanding of the Indiana Code that township offices should not be closed two business days in a row—so citizens in need don’t have to wait too long for assistance—I have always kept a ‘skeleton’ crew on duty on the second of those consecutive days off. Members of my management team take turns working those days to make sure we are always on hand in case of need. But as for October 14th, it’s a regular day of business here at the township.
I think of Columbus as a great adventurer, but I also know that this holiday can be controversial. Some people think of Columbus as a hero—Italian-Americans, for example, are proud that Columbus—an Italian himself—was one of the first explorers of the New World. Others, however, see things differently. The Americas weren’t empty of people when Columbus landed, and he and his crews did not treat kindly the Native Americans he encountered.
This puts me in mind of the controversy I read about earlier this year, when the Fort Wayne City Council was debating the creation of Anthony Wayne Day to celebrate the man who founded our city (and whom Wayne Township is named for). For some it made perfect sense to honor the man who built a fort that would become our beloved city. Others found it offensive to celebrate one whose mission was to rid the central part of the nation of its native people. In February the council approved the resolution, and July 16, 2019 was named the first Anthony Wayne Day.
While this was celebrated by some of our citizens, it was a disappointment to others. I am glad that we had the conversation. Even some city council members said that they learned many things they didn’t know before about Anthony Wayne and saw how people could have different perspectives on the subject.
The thoughts and feelings of all citizens should be taken into account in government. That’s where education comes into play. Once again, I am convinced that education—knowing our history and our culture—is key to coming down on the best side of so many of our current events.
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