Last Monday I was wondering if we would be getting the day off on Columbus Day/Indigenous Peoples Day/Old Farmers Day, and at that moment a song popped up on the CD in the car stereo. It was Texas songwriter James McMurtry singing, “I’m not from here, I just live here. Grew up somewhere far away…”
I relate. My grandparents emigrated from Sweden and Poland. My other grandparents emigrated from Alabama. Well actually they go back to Colonial Maryland, or so my third cousin who worked on our genealogy says. I guess you could say us Larsons are – like millions of other families – a tiny droplet out of this big melting pot we call home.
Here in New Mexico, some of the families really are "from here" and have a family history going back 400 years or so, and in the process spiced up the melting pot with green chile .
To be honest though, those ancestors originally came from Spain. You’ve got to go back to the early 1500s when the Spanish conquistadors came, with many marrying their indigenous girlfriends and settling down and getting married and having children.
But if I read my history book, the ancestors of the indigenous population had settled around here after their fore-bearers came to North America across a land bridge from Siberia.
This is the point where my brain gets wonky and the neurons start jumping synapses, kind of like it did when I was trying not to flunk algebra, and if I take this much further I may have to resort to a flow chart in a powerpoint presentation. Heaven forbid.
So with all this in mind, I can see why some people wonder if Columbus Day should still be a thing. Here in New Mexico it was officially changed to Indigenous Peoples Day last year, and kin like fashion, other states have made the switch.
It may not be any big loss because if you think about it, Christopher Columbus' name is already enshrined by places like Columbus, Ohio; Columbus, Georgia; Columbia, South Carolina; District of Columbia; Columbia University; Columbia, South America; Canada’s British Columbia and on and on.
While we're jacking around with legal holidays let's go ahead and add one that has a tad more significance when it comes to the U.S.A.'s history. This coming Monday, for example, is a day that ought to be right up there with VE Day and VJ Day. I'm talking about - wait for it - VB day!
Yes, Victory over the British, for it was Oct. 19, 1781, that England’s royal army under General Cornwallis was surrounded and consequently surrendered at Yorktown, Virginia. George Washington well deserved having a ticker-tape parade to mark the victory. Of course, there was no such thing as ticker-tape back then and as a matter of fact, there’s no such thing as ticker-tape today.
This is where the Z generation will ask, "Grandpa, what is a ticker-tape parade?" And I say it's kind of like dumping your paper-shredder contents out the window of a skyscraper into the street. Ticker-tape, as such, has gone the way of telegrams, "Fill 'er up?" gas station attendants and Kodak Instamatics.
Not to say that my old 127 Brownie couldn’t take good pictures, it’s just nowadays you can’t find anyone to process the film. What the latest thing now, though, is to pull all those old faded snapshots out of the photo album and scan them into your computer. And that’s okay because with the right software you can make them look (almost) new. But time marches on, and now people rely on their cell phones for capturing those precious moments, and upload them onto the world-wide-web for people from Timbuktu to Kalamazoo to scroll past.
But look at me, being all high and mighty when I just posted a Flashback Friday photo.
But I digress.
Today is the birthdate of Friederich Nietzsche, who was born in Germany on October 15, 1844, and I only mention this because even to this day, you will catch people quoting him, whether they know it or not. It was Nietzsche, as I recall from my philosophy class at the University of Illinois, who gave birth to a million Facebook memes by proclaiming, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger."
But that's not all. Nietzsche also said, “Without music, life would be a mistake.”
And, “I'm not upset that you lied to me, I'm upset that from now on I can't believe you.”
He also left us with the sobering, "Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you."
Wait. Sounds like social media to me.