“In fourteen hundred ninety-two, Columbus got us all a day off school. With just three ships he sailed over, so we could have some me time in October.”

Trey Parker, “Holiday Special,” South Park

I see Columbus Day in Maine is gone, which has already happened in other states. I fear that the process of rewriting history will continue so only God knows what is coming next.

But Columbus never stepped on American soil and our country was named after Amerigo Vespucci.

When I went to school long ago history was really bland and many facts weren’t taught. It wasn’t until serving two tours of duty in Europe that I really began appreciating what history really means and how it can determine our future.

The best I can remember being taught in school was that all explorations by Europeans were the best thing that could have happened in order for mankind to move forward. Just look at what we were told about the 16th-century Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon searching for the fountain of youth. In truth he never came close to what was thought to be the fountain of youth and certainly not one person turned into a teenager after drinking the foul-smelling water. Of course the most astounding facts were left out of all the exploration stories, not the least of which was and the spread of disease that killed at best estimates 90% of the population in Central and North America.

While stationed in Europe, I visited the former concentration camp at Dachau, West Germany, at that time. Yes, at the entrance gate was the “arbeit macht frei” sign,  “work makes (one) free.” After seeing mounds of dirt that contained the remains of 50,000 or more Jewish people, the truth really hit hard. And sadly, there is so much more to see. I know that there is proposed legislation to teach the Holocaust in Maine schools and I believe it should be. There are so many similar stories that could be taught as well, but how does one decide which ones should have the priority?

It’s hard to believe the number of religious hate crimes happening not only in other countries but right here in ours. It certainly appears to be worsening and the religious group being attacked doesn’t seem to matter in the least. Some blame President Trump, but I believe that’s just an excuse, especially with the political animosity these days. Unfortunately, this only compounds the hatred that divides not only our nation but the world. Having worked in the Equal Opportunity and Race Relations Division years ago in the Headquarters, United States Army Europe, education appears to me as one the best solutions we have.

Lane Hiltunen of Windham wonders if there should be an in-depth look at how modern humans overpowered and eliminated or assimilated the Neanderthals.


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