At American Heritage we prayed and recited the national anthem daily. We sang in choirs and enacted plays about the American Revolution. We were taught mathematics, science, grammar, history and other subjects. But anyone who remembers Mrs. Cornell could not soon forget her great admiration for Christopher Colombus.
If I hadn't been so busy flirting with the grade school grade beauties, battling on the playground basketball court, or getting sent home from school for valiantly defending myself in a snowball fight, I might have better appreciated that which Mrs. Cornell was trying to teach us. In retrospect it is clear that this great teacher was imbuing her students with a sense of respect, and inculcating gratitude for the precious gift of liberty. Of course, these principles were not alien to me at the time, but Mrs. Cornell's lessons did much to reinforce and build upon lessons already learned at home.
"The Crimes of Cristopher Columbus." On the opposite extreme, others, not unlike some of the ancient American inhabitants, try to elevate Columbus to the status of a deity. Truthfully, Columbus was neither a demon nor a demigod. He was, as Mrs. Cornell taught long ago, a man who acted under inspiration for purposes greater than his own:
"The Lord was well disposed to my desire and he bestowed upon me courage and understanding; knowledge of seafaring he gave me in abundance . . . and of geometry and astronomy likewise . . . The Lord with provident hand unlocked my mind, sent me upon the sea, and gave me fire for the deed. Those who heard of my enterprise called it foolish, mocked me and laughed. But who can doubt that the Holy Ghost inspired me?" - (see Jacob Wasserman, Columbus, the Don Quixote of the Seas)
As part of an extensive vision, the Book of Mormon prophet Nephi witnessed this same voyage:
"And I looked and beheld a man among the Gentiles, who was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters; and I beheld the Spirit of God, that it came down and wrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land." (1 Ne. 13:12)
Consider for a moment that during his first voyage, and after having sailed for many day toward a hoped for destiny, under the rising threat of a mutinous crew, Columbus had ample courage and perseverance in the face of uncertainty to add a simple note to his diary: "This day we sailed on." (See Lillian Eichler Watson, ed., Light from Many Lamps (1979), 138.)