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Columbus Day: What's Open and Closed

What has become a controversial holiday is upon us today. Is it a time to celebrate, or reflect on the cost of Europe's "discovery" of another culture?

Columbus Day. A day and time and Franklin Delano Roosevelt ordered set aside for observation in 1937 as a national holiday, to honor the accidental discovery of the Americas by Christopher Columbus, who was actually looking for a shortcut to India. When he and his crew landed on the shores of the Caribbean instead, they thought they had found India, which is why native Americans are known as Indians. 

What happened after that has become — like just about everything else in America these days--embroiled in endless controversy. Italian Americans and Portugese Americans (both of whom claim Columbus for their own) point with pride to the explorer's courage and insight, discovering a new world that, at least in one case, would become a beacon of freedom for the rest of the world. Others say that Columbus and his crew brought deadly diseases and slavery to what was a well-established and thriving group of cultures. 

Still others, perhaps not so historically inclined, wonder why it is a federal holiday, but not one for most workers. And of course, retailers find it an excellent excuse to hold a sale. 

Piedmont city offices and Alameda County offices are open today. It's a furlough day for the Piedmont Unified School District, with no classes for students. Federal offices (including the postal service) are closed. 

What are your thoughts on Columbus Day? Tell us in the comments section below.

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