Today, we mark what’s generally considered the 520th anniversary of the landing of Christopher Columbus in the New World.
Columbus Day is, on the surface, a day that commemorates a high point in an Age of Exploration that produced Spanish and Portuguese colonies in Central and South America then English, French and Spanish colonies in North America. It has also come to mark the first big holiday weekend of the fall, the real end to even the extended summer tourism season, the peak season for fall foliage and, yes, the peak of the election season as well.
On another plane, however, Columbus Day should remind us of the need for exploration — not just in the global type of exploration shown by Columbus and others like him, but in the exploration of new ideas, and in challenging the myths of the unknown, just as Columbus, perhaps above all else, proved to the naysayers that they were wrong in believing that the earth was flat.
There are many ways of exploring new solutions and new ideas today, not just on the national level, but right here in Gloucester and on Cape Ann. And these are ideas we should not fear, but embrace – from taking different approaches to educating students in our schools, to breaking away from constraints that have limited our progress in the past.
That can mean accepting the methods of Gloucester’s charter school, all the while exploring and embracing the even newer “innovation” school concept that is already bringing new direction and successes to O’Maley Middle School; it also means being open-minded when it comes to seeking new freedoms from the state’s Designated Port Area, and new opportunities for the city-owned I,-4, C-2 site and perhaps other waterfront properties as well.
So as we take a day of rest for this holiday, let’s also ponder perhaps the real messages from Columbus’ voyages: You never get anywhere by giving in to those who say something simply can’t be done, and there are always new opportunities to be gained, if we’re only willing to explore.
Enjoy the day.