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Quotations for Columbus Day

In fourteen hundred ninety-two,
Columbus got us all a day off school.
With just three ships he sailed over,
So we could have some me time in October.
~Trey Parker, "Holiday Special," South Park [S21, E3, 2017, Cartman]

One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time. ~André Gide, The Counterfeiters, 1925, translated from French

If Columbus had an advisory committee he'd probably still be at the dock. ~Arthur J. Goldberg (1908–1990)

In all parts of the Old World, as well as of the New, it was evident that Columbus had kindled a fire in every mariner's heart. That fire was the harbinger of a new era, for it was not to be extinguished. ~Charles Kendall Adams, Christopher Columbus: His Life and His Work, 1892

Young men! I invite you to honest, prayerful heart-study. Every man has in himself a continent of undiscovered character. Happy is he who acts the Columbus to his own soul! ~Rev. T. L. Cuyler, "Heart Study," c. 1856

Columbus went around the world in 1492. That isn't a lot of strokes when you consider the course. ~Lee Trevino, quoted in Glenn Liebman, Golf Shorts, 1995

In fourteen hundred and ninety-two,
Somebody sailed the ocean blue.
Somebody borrowed the fare in Spain
For a business trip on the bounding main,
And to prove to people, by actual test,
You could get to the East by traveling West...
~Ogden Nash (1902–1971), "Look What You Did, Christopher!"

Over half a millennium ago, Christopher Columbus — an ambitious navigator native to Genoa, Italy — set sail for new horizons... Though his first of four voyages across the Atlantic did not end at his desired destination of Asia, Columbus's adventure reflected the insatiable thirst for exploration that continues to drive us as a people... Though these early travels expanded the realm of European exploration, to many they also marked a time that forever changed the world for the indigenous peoples of North America... and as we pay tribute to the ways in which Columbus pursued ambitious goals — we also recognize the suffering inflicted upon Native Americans and we recommit to strengthening tribal sovereignty and maintaining our strong ties. ~Barack Obama, Presidential Proclamation — Columbus Day, 2015

The things that haven't been done before,
      Those are the things to try.
Columbus dreamed of an unknown shore
      At the rim of the far-flung sky,
And his heart was bold and his faith was strong
      As he ventured with dangers new,
And he paid no heed to the jeering throng
      Or the fears of a doubting crew...
~Anonymous, "Things Not Done Before," c. 1915

Columbus is the one who wanted to go to India and wound up in San Salvador. I've had travel agents like that myself. ~Robert Orben, 2400 Jokes to Brighten Your Speeches, 1984

This may be understood when we realize what the world was like before advertising existed. Christopher Columbus, we are told, spent eighteen years vainly trying to persuade the sovereigns of Europe to discover America. Under present conditions all he would have needed to do would have been to circulate among the Kings a form letter with the heading DO YOU WANT A CONTINENT? or put a picture of himself on the paper with one hand extended towards a cloud in the sky and the legend This Man Discovers Continents:... ~Stephen Leacock, "The Perfect Salesman: A Complete Guide to Business — The Whole Art of Advertising," The Garden of Folly, 1924

I also hate those holidays that fall on a Monday where you don't get mail, those fake holidays like Columbus Day. What did Christopher Columbus do, discover America? If he hadn't, somebody else would have and we'd still be here. ~John Waters, "Things I Hate," interview with Jon Winokur, in Return of the Portable Curmudgeon, 1995

When asked by an anthropologist what the Indians called America before the white man came, an Indian said simply, "Ours." ~Vine Deloria, Jr.

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published 2002 May 25
revised Oct 2013, Sep 2018
last saved 2022 Jun 28