Columbus Day was celebrated in the United States on October 11. It honors Christopher Columbus for his first voyage to America in 1492. It became a legal federal holiday in the United States in 1971 and is celebrated on the second Monday in October. Prior to 1971, several states celebrated Columbus Day on October 12 with cities and organizations sponsoring parades and banquets.
The first Columbus Day celebration was held in 1792 when New York City celebrated the 300 year anniversary of the discovery of the New World. President Benjamin Harrison called upon the people of the United States in 1892 to celebrate the 400 year anniversary of the event. Since 1920 Columbus Day has been celebrated annually.
There are many monuments that honor Columbus even though the land he discovered was not named after him. The Republic of Colombia in South America and the District of Columbia in the United States both bear his name. There are also towns, rivers, streets, and public buildings named after him. The United States is sometimes referred to as Columbia in poetic personifications. There are about 350,000 volumes on the American republics located in the Columbus Memorial Library in Washington, D.C.
October 12 is celebrated as the Dia de la Raza (Day of the Race) in many Latin-American nations to honor the Spanish heritage of the peoples of Latin America. Speeches, parades, and colorful fiestas are all part of the celebration.
Facts for this post came from an article by Jack Santino in World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, p 865.