And so, our unit draws to a close without any clear cut indication as to the merits of a celebration for the Quincentenniary of America or the necessity of a time of penitence and apologies. From the European perspective in the late fifteenth century, Columbus and his fellow conquistadors were heroes. In the late nineteenth century, Columbus became a national American epic hero, second only to General Washington. But here in the late twentieth century, it has become very difficult to separate the man from the deed. Are we burdening him with more guilt than we should? And if there is guilt, shouldn’t it be shared by others?
As with most situations, only time will tell. Perhaps in years to come, other generations will see Columbus as a man of destiny, a man who was both of his time and beyond his time. But as Samuel Morison has ably suggested, Columbus was indeed one of the greatest mariners of all times. For this, he should be honored.