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Let's Celebrate Explorer's Day by Ernest Lilley
SFRevu Editorial  ISBN/ITEM#: EL0610
Date: October 1, 2006 / Show Official Info /

In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue, as many of us learned in elementary school. On the morning of October 12th a sailor on board the Pinta sighted land, and the rest is history. Some 445 years later, Franklin Delano Roosevelt made October 12th a national holiday, which was shifted to the second Monday in October in 1971. Back in the day's when history was simpler, we learned that Columbus had "discovered" America, begging the question of what the native Americans had discovered when they wandered across the Bering Strait, or what the Vikings had discovered sometime after that. Though I don't think there's a national holiday to commemorate the first, in 1964 Congress unanimously approved October 9th as the national day of observance of Leif Erikson's discovery. This year, that happens to be the same day that Columbus Day is observed, so as long as we're celebrating two explorers that day, why not include a few more? In fact, why not invite them all.

I propose that we change the second Monday in October to Explorer's Day and let everyone have a share of the glory.

Can you imagine the parade up Madison Avenue in NYC arriving at the Explorer's Club at 70th street? There might be a Kon Tiki float, followed by a Spirit of St. Louis balloon, Magellan circumnavigating the world, Chuck Yeager and the Bell X-1 breaking the sound barrier, Scott trekking towards the pole, Hillary scaling Everest...and of course we'd have Neil Armstrong blowing taking small steps and gant leaps up the avenue. Like the Thanksgiving Day parade you'd need a big finish...and since he did make a big splash with his discovery of America, I'd be more than happy to have Chris and his three ships finish up the affair.

While some voyages of discovery are legendary, others are imaginary, but no less important. I think a Trek float emblazoned with "To boldly go where no one has gone before" would be great, Not to mention the Odyssey. Homer's...not Arthur's. If you have a favorite explorer, you'd be welcome to come along and show them to the world. Eventually we could push for explorers on the frontiers of knowledge, but to start I wouldn't push it.

Just think what the media could do with a day devoted to exploration and discovery. Naturally the Discovery Channel would go bananas, as would all the PBS stations and the History Channel, The Travel Channel, and while we're at it, the SciFi Channel too.

Exploration and discovery are the most exciting parts of the human experience. Whether done under a national flag or in a moment of personal revelation, it's an experience that we can all relate to, and a spirit to be applauded. Every generation discovers things for themselves, just as every alien discovers America for themselves when they step off the plane, boat or flying saucer. Let's celebrate all of these discoveries together and see if we can't have a holiday we can share, rather than one that splits us up.

This year, I'm celebrating Explorer's Day on the second Monday in October. See you at the club.

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