- The Washington Times - Monday, October 9, 2006


The observation of Columbus Day in the District is more than just another ceremony for tourists and passers-by to gawk at.

What many may not have realized about yesterday’s event at Union Station is that they were participating in the 94th annual Columbus Day ceremony at the only national memorial to the famed traveler — the railway station’s statue — amid a presentation of flags, music and speakers.

“Columbus discovered the New World, and we all have him to thank,” said Presley Wagoner, president general of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). “His vision was extremely courageous — to get out into the world of the unknown.”

The Knights of Columbus, a Catholic men’s group, and the embassies of Spain, Italy and the Bahamas joined the National Columbus Celebration Association (NCCA) as did many other organizations, in paying tribute to the sailor.

“Christopher Columbus was one of the great leaders of that millennium,” said Tom Hogan, emcee and board member of NCCA. “All of the embassies that were represented here today think of him as a great leader.

“Without him, somebody else would’ve discovered America probably, but how many hundreds of years later? … As a result of that, we have the greatest democracy and democratic government that the world has ever known.”

In addition, the DAR and the National Italian American Foundation sponsored an essay contest focusing on Columbus’ achievements. This year’s winner, Catharine Clayton, a 17-year-old from Sugar Land, Texas, shared her essay comparing Columbus and astronauts.

For many participants, the ceremony represents a part of their life and their passion.

“A day like this shows the strengthening and support for an explorer,” Knights of Columbus member Maurice Hunt said. “It expresses and brings together all of the nations and shows a common goal of mankind and just a strong nation.”

Katie Nichols

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