Americans Honor Bold Spirits of Columbus, Erikson

Washington - The United States will celebrate Columbus Day October 9 to honor the legendary Italian explorer who landed in the New World in 1492.

The holiday is an opportunity to celebrate the Italian heritage many Americans share with Columbus, as well as “the important relationship between the United States and Italy” and the contributions of Italian Americans to U.S. history and culture, according to a presidential proclamation issued October 5.

“Today, the same passion for discovery that drove Columbus is leading bold visionaries to explore the frontiers of space, find new energy sources, and solve our most difficult medical challenges,” President Bush said in the proclamation.

October 9 also is designated in the United States as Leif Erikson Day, in honor of the great explorer of Icelandic and Norwegian heritage who became one of the first Europeans known to reach North America.

“Americans have always valued the ideals of exploration and discovery,” said a presidential proclamation released on October 4.  “A desire to seek and understand ... remains a central part of our national character.”

The proclamation praised “the generations of Nordic Americans who have contributed to our country and strengthened the ties that forever bind the United States with Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden.”

For additional information, see Columbus Day.

The full texts of the presidential proclamations on Columbus Day and Leif Erikson Day are available on the White House Web site.