The National Columbus Memorial



The national Columbus Memorial Fountain opposite the U.S. Capitol in front of Union Station was dedicated on June 8, 1912, with President Taft, Cabinet Members, the Chief Justice and associate justices of the Supreme Court, congressmen, and many other dignitaries in attendance. The ceremonies and parade were described as the most impressive program in Washington since the Union Army's victory parade after the War Between the States, and the largest crowd ever in the city. (The entire elaborate celebration covered a four-day weekend, more fully described on pages 8-14 of the 1997 program booklet, and on p.14 of our 1998 booklet. [Click here to see.])


The received tradition is that there has been a celebration at the Memorial each year since the 1912 unveiling. Without a systematic archival search, it is known that Lido Club records refer to a celebration in 1934, and perhaps to others as well. A clipping from The Washington Times of October 12, 1937 reports on a parade at 7:30 p.m. from the K. of C. Hall at 10th and K Sts., Northwest to the Memorial for the wreath laying. "It is anticipated that there will be more than 3,000 in the procession.... There will be six bands in line...."


More recent records of the Knights of Columbus indicate that on Sunday, October 11, 1953, the councils of D.C. joined together "at wreath laying ceremonies at the Columbus Statue in Union Station Plaza, The next day a gala five council celebration ... was held at the classical Pan American Union Building." The same source reports, for the following year, participation in "the customary wreath laying ceremonies at the statue of Christopher Columbus," with the Metropolitan Police Department Band furnishing the music. For 1956 it describes "a full week of activities," including a religious celebration on Sunday, October 7, followed by a parade to the monument wreath-laying ceremonies [with the Italian and Spanish ambassadors participating], and a Columbus Day luncheon at the University Club on October 12.


1960s Columbus Day 1963 is especially remembered for the White House Rose Garden reception (after the ceremonies at the national Memorial) which included persons of Italian and Spanish descent, and Knights of Columbus. A later product of that would be the National Columbus Day Committee to promote making Columbus Day a federal holiday, a prime mover of which was Mariano A. Lucca (memorialized in the 1994 program booklet of WCCA). The first ceremonies at the statue sponsored by the Committee were in 1966, with Senator John Pastore of Rhode Island as principal speaker, and music by the Marine Band. (Return to Outline of this Article)



The "National Christopher Columbus Day Celebrations"



1970s The Committee achieved its goal, and in 1971 Columbus Day was first observed as a federal holiday, in accordance with a bill signed by President Lyndon Johnson in 1968. The 1971 celebration, billed as "The First National Christopher Columbus Day Celebration" was a three-day affair, with the National Columbus Day Committee as the prime mover. It featured both a religious and a civic ceremony on Sunday, with an evening concert at Constitution Hall, a parade on Monday (the new holiday), and a gala concert at the Kennedy Center as well as a "Salute to Columbus" Victory Ball at the Washington Hilton. (More details, and the story of how Columbus Day became a federal holiday, are contained on pp. 5-10 of the WCCA program booklet for 1996.)


The "Second National Christopher Columbus Day Celebration" the following year, 1972, featured addresses by Secretary of Transportation John Volpe, Supreme Knight John McDevitt of the Knights of Columbus, and Italian Ambassador Egidio Ortona, with a dinner and gala celebration in the evening. The next year, the wreath-laying ceremonies for the "Third National Christopher Columbus Day Celebration," as it was named in 1973, again featured Volpe, now Ambassador to Italy, with music by the Army Band, and a black tie dinner in the evening at the Sheraton Park Hotel.


In the years 1972-1975, the ceremonies were sponsored by Amerito, an umbrella organization of American-Italian groups, along with the Knights of Columbus and the National Park Service. Music was provided by the Holy Rosary band in the last two of these years Then in the 1976 bicentennial year, the American Italian Bicentennial Commission took over the role handled by Amerito, alongside the other two sponsors.


The civic ceremony at the national Columbus memorial followed a special religious celebration at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and included a welcome by Mayor Walter E. Washington, remarks by Hon.Blair Lee, Lieutenant. Governor of Maryland, an address by Hon. Pete V. Domenici, United States Senator from New Mexico, an address by President Gerald R. Ford (who also laid a wreath), closing remarks by Rev. Timothy S. Healy, S.J., President of Georgetown University, and the playing of Col. Charles Gabriele's "Christopher Columbus March" by the Navy band under the baton of the Secretary of the Navy, Hon. J. William Middendorf II. A "Festival of the Arts" was also held. Supreme Knight Dechant in 1979


The descriptive title, "National Christopher Columbus Day Celebration" would continue to be used in the latter half of the 1970s. In 1978, Amerito resumed its collaborative sponsorship with the Knights of Columbus of the metropolitan Area (DC, Maryland, and Virginia), and the National Park Service. In 1979, an address was given by Virgil C. Dechant, relatively new in his position as Supreme Knight of the K. of C.


By the mid-1980s, Amerito had receded into the background with sponsorship of the celebration primarily left to the Knights of Columbus of the area in collaboration with the Park Service, although with support from Italian and Spanish organizations. The general pattern that had evolved included: posting of the Colors; the national anthems of the US, Italy, and Spain; invocation; a welcome; introduction of guests (usually with brief remarks by them); reading of Columbus Day proclamations from the President and the Mayor of Washington; some kind of entertainment interlude with music and/or dancing; addresses; and presentation of wreaths, escorted by the Fourth Degree Color Corps of the Knights of Columbus. The religious celebration, also with Color Corps participation, has usually been handled separately at a different place and time, most commonly on the Sunday preceding the Monday holiday.


Beginnings of the Washington Columbus Celebration Association


With the Quincentenary several years away, John C. Moore of the DC Knights of Columbus, intimately involved in leadership roles in the celebrations since 1965, initiated meetings of interested parties at the Touchdown Club in Washington to place the celebrations on a more permanent footing and plan for the Quincentenary.


The earliest minutes that have been found of what was called "The Christopher Columbus Committee, 1992" record a meeting on September 27, 1988, reporting that "the main topic of discussion was how to grow to make it an eventful celebration for Columbus Day 1992. There was much enthusiasm, but some concern that if we don't organize a viable Columbus Day committee some other individuals may be coming to D.C. to take over the celebrations in 1992."


The next meeting, on October 27, featured a presentation by John Williams who spoke on plans of the Christopher Columbus Quincentenary Jubilee Commission for the national and local observance. "He stated that the celebrations will take place from October 1991 through October 1993. This will give many states and groups across the country the opportunity to hold different types of celebrations. There will be national events throughout the two-year period to draw people. He stated that there are approximately 60 Columbus statues which are a real work of art. Among these is the Columbus statue at the Union Station, Washington, D.C., which is perhaps one of the finest pieces of art and the most beautiful statue--Christopher Columbus, the Man, built in the Italian Renaissance style." (Return to Outline of this Article)


Minutes from February 9, 1989 show fifteen attendees, including Anthony Catalano, Minister, Embassy of Italy; Richard Higgins, formerly U.S. Consul in Genoa; three representatives from OSIA (Order Sons of Italy in America) lodges; a representative from the Union Station general management office, Dr. David R. Curfman, representing the Washington Cathedral Choral Society; and eight representatives from various K.of C. offices or units, including Carl Anderson, Vice President for Public Policy.


As the meetings continued, the necessity for a formal organization became clear so that the group's activities could be recognized by the Quincentenary Commission. By laws were drawn up, and adopted on June 29, 1989, which can be considered as the birthday of the Washington Columbus Celebration Association (WCCA). The name chosen reflected the fact that the focus was on the Quincentenary celebrations planned for the Washington, D.C. area in the context of many celebrations then planned in all parts of the country for the .big anniversary year.


Three classes of membership were established, each with specified representation on the Board of Governors, with elections to those seats conducted at the annual general meeting within the three classes in whatever manner such members might determine: (1) members of units of the Knights of Columbus; (2) members of units of OSIA; and (3) other parties interested in celebrating Columbus. The Board in turn was given the responsibility to elect officers, and the chairman the responsibility to organize and develop the celebration.


The first officers of the Association were: John C. Moore, Chairman, and Edward Sullivan, Treasurer, both K. of C., and Nina Baccanari of OSIA, Secretary. Other members of the Board also reflected the founding role of the K.of C. and OSIA: J. Kemp Cook, James Olivarri, and Donald Sabin from the former, and Michael Catrone, Rose Caponiti Houston, and Kurt Vener from the latter.


On October 9, 1989, for the first time the Columbus Day celebration at the national Columbus Memorial was under the sponsorship of the Association, in collaboration with the National Park Service, and so it has remained ever since. There were addresses by State Senator Frank Komenda of Maryland and historian Dr. Christopher Kauffman. Guests included Emmanuel N. Pelaez, Ambassador of the Philippines; Carlo Trezza, Counselor of the Embassy of Italy; Teri Doke representing the Mayor of Washington; and Robert Stanton, Regional Director of the National Park Service (now the head of the Park Service). The program included an historical rendering by a Franciscan friar, dance selections from the Columbus era by Nachtanz, and music by the St. John DeMatha High School Band. Joseph A. DePaul was Master of Ceremonies. The program leaflet listed eighteen wreath-presenters, including two from the K. of C. (one from the Supreme Council and one from the local Knights); the National Park Service; the Embassy of Italy; the Catholic War Veterans; eight OSIA lodges; and five other Italian organizations--all escorted by the K. of C. Color Corps.. (Return to Outline of this Article)


The program the next year was similar, with much the same cast of characters, including the master of ceremonies, principal speaker, musicians, and dancers. The primary attention of the WCCA at the time, however, was focused on the impending Quincentenary, rather than the current year's celebration. In addition to Counselor Trezza from Italy, this year Jorge Fuentes, Charge D'Affaires of the Embassy of Spain, and Mercedes Gimenec, Cultural Attache of the Embassy of Paraguay, were present, along with Valerie Barry, Acting Secretary of the District of Columbia. There were sixteen groups presenting wreaths, reflecting some changes among the Italian groups involved.


The Quincentenary Celebrations


Prospects for a major celebration grew when the Knights of Columbus decided to open their Order-wide observance of the Quincentenary with Columbus Day ceremonies in 1991 at the national Columbus Memorial. Just as the American Italian Bicentennial Commission dominated the 1976 celebration, so the involvement of the Knights' Supreme Office proved overwhelming, although the ceremonies remained under the nominal sponsorship of WCCA (whose primary interest was a good celebration, not who did it) and the National Park Service.


A special roofed stage was constructed and arrangements made for a larger-than-average crowd. All of the Supreme Officers of the Knights of Columbus and its international Board of Directors were present, and Supreme Knight Virgil C. Dechant served as Master of Ceremonies. There were remarks by Frank Donatelli, Chairman of the Christopher Columbus Quincentenary Jubilee Commission, and the Columbus Day Address was delivered by William P. Barr, Acting Attorney General of the U.S. Music was again furnished by the DeMatha High School Band and Wind Ensemble. A special feature of the event was the reading of essays by the three local winners (from D.C., Maryland, and Virginia) in a Columbus essay contest sponsored by the Knights as a prelude to a national contest with the winning essay to be read at the Order's national convention in New York in 1992. Topic for the contest was: "Christopher Columbus: Role Model for Today's Youth." (The winning essay from the D.C. student, Zulima Espinel, is printed in the 1994 program booklet.) An anti-Columbus protester who interrupted the ceremonies by defacing the monument with red paint was quickly hustled off by the Park Police.


There were 22 wreath presenters, including the Embassies of Spain, Italy, and the Bahamas; the National Park Service and the Office of the Mayor; the Washington Columbus Celebration Association (for the first time); five K. of C. groups (the Supreme Office, the state councils of D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, and the Insurance Agency); and ten Italian-American groups (NIAF, the Catholic War Veterans, the Lido Civic Club, and seven OSIA lodges). Following the ceremony, there was a large and elaborate reception hosted in the Columbus Club of Union Station by the Supreme Office of the Knights.


The civic ceremonies followed a special Columbus Quincentenary Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, where Cardinal-Archbishop James Hickey of Washington was the principal celebrant. At this Mass the Supreme Knight presented the National Shrine with the Discovery Cross commemorating the Quincentenary of the evangelization of the Americas, now carried each year in the religious celebration. Similar crosses had been presented to each diocese.


For the major anniversary year itself, 1992, the Knights' Supreme Office shifted attention to their forthcoming national convention in New York in August for their major celebration, with local celebrations throughout the country in October. The Washington ceremony, back completely in the hands of the Washington Columbus Celebration Association for 1992, had, for the first time, a souvenir program booklet of twenty-eight-pages was published with an attractive full color cover picturing Columbus's ships at sea, and informative background articles and information. The booklet has been continued ever since, doubling in size and becoming more attractive over the years in content and appearance.


Although membership dues had not been contemplated in the initial WCCA organization or by laws, in order to support the development of the celebrations they were now introduced, based on organizational level (local, regional, national, etc.) or commercial status, and, for individuals, degree of financial participation desired (member, sponsor, donor). There were 34 dues-paying members listed in that first program book: fifteen K. of C. entities, headed by the Supreme Office and including all three local state jurisdictions and local Fourth Degree districts, as well as subordinate units); seven OSIA lodges; NIAF, the Lido Civic Club and Fr. DeCarlo Post of the Catholic War Veterans; one business; and eight individuals of varying degrees of affiliation. Advertising revenue from the program booklet itself also contributed substantially toward covering celebration costs.


The original Board had remained in place through the 1992 celebration, with some slight changes: in addition to the chairman (Moore), Secretary (Baccanari) and treasurer (Sullivan), it now included J. Kemp Cook and Daniel Quaid of the K. of C., Michael Catrone, Leonard Durso, and Robert Houston of OSIA, and Louis J. Figliozzi of the Lido Club (who had in earlier years served as co-chairman of the celebration with John Moore).


The 1992 ceremonies featured addresses by U.S. Attorney Joseph E. DiGenova (on "The Courage of Christopher Columbus," subsequently reproduced in excerpted format in the 1994 program book) and Christopher Kauffman ("Culture and Religion: A Quincentennial Reflection"). Joseph A. DePaul again was Master of Ceremonies. The music was supplied by the Filarmonica Sestrese Genoa Concert, on tour from Italy, and there was a brief presentation by Louis Koerber, President of the National Flag Foundation, observing the 100th anniversary of the Pledge of Allegiance, originally composed in connection with the 1892 Columbus Quadricentennial and incorporated by Congress into the Flag Code of the U.S. in the Pledge's fiftieth anniversary year, 1942.


At the general membership meeting on November 28, the Association voted to recognize chairman John Moore by presenting him with a plaque, dated on the Columbus Quincentennial, 1992. and containing the following inscription: "The Washington Columbus Celebration Association expresses its appreciation to John C. Moore, founding Chairman of the Association in 1989, for his exemplary service in organizing and coordinating the Columbus Day Celebrations since 1965." (Return to Outline of this Article)


Five Hundred Plus


At the 1993 Columbus Day ceremonies, major addresses were delivered by Gonzalo de Ojeda, Consul General of the Embassy of Spain ("The Return of Columbus to the New World: Its Impact"); Cornelius Heine, Executive Secretary of the U.S. Capitol Historical Association (on "Columbus and the U.S. Capitol," reproduced in the 1998 program book); and Carl Anderson, K. of C. Vice President for Public Policy (elected Supreme Secretary in 1999), who spoke on "Columbus and the Immigrant: His Impact." Judge Vincent J. Femia of Maryland served as Master of Ceremonies, and the DeMatha Wind Ensemble provided the music, with additional musical selections by Sylvan Ayers.


In the meantime, WCCA had added two new members to its Board: Phillip Nelson (Master of K. of C. Fourth Degree) and Blanche Davis (Prince Georges County OSIA Lodge), replacing J. Kemp Cook and Robert Houston. John C. Moore continued as chairman, and Louis Figliozzi, long involved in the celebrations, was elected vice-chairman. The secretary and treasurer switched positions, with Edward M. Sullivan assuming the former, and Nina Baccanari the latter position. There was a net drop of three in membership now that the Quincentenary was over, with 31 listed in the program booklet. (Return to Outline of this Article)


Although Chairman John Moore had announced that he would appoint a search committee and no longer serve after his term ended on December 31, 1993, a replacement had not been found, and the 1994 program booklet (now 40 pages), listed the same officers, though the chairman was now serving in an "Acting" capacity. Pending such revisions to the by laws, the board had been expanded through special "alternate memberships" and Dr. David R. Curfman, Richard Aleksy, and Gino Marinucci were added in that way. There was also a net gain of eleven dues-paying members, with a total of 42 dues-paying members of all types. The program booklet netted between $1,300 and $1,400, consistent with what it had produced previously.


An addition at the beginning of the program, to be included in subsequent years, was the posting of the colors at the beginning of the ceremony by an Honor Guard from the Military District of Washington. The program itself followed the familiar pattern, with music by the Commonwealth Ensemble and addresses by Judge Angelo Castelli of Prince Georges County; Judge Lawrence S. Margolis of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims; Mr. Robert B. Blancato, Executive Director of the White House Conference on Aging; and remarks by the 1991 essay contest winner for D.C., who had been invited back: Zulima Espinel, now a student at Columbia University, whose earlier winning essay was printed in the 1994 program booklet. (This year's remarks, titled "Where are the Heroes?" appear in the 1995 program booklet. The custom of having a young speaker on the program would be continued in the ensuing years.) There followed the usual wreath presentations.


The 1994 general meeting of the Association on November 29 added the following to the board: Reginald C. Bush, Francis J. Loughney and George Hanna (all present or former K. of C. officials), Pino Cicala (of the Lido Club and Italian radio) and Anthony Russo (OSIA). At the follow up meeting of the Board on December 10, Dr. David R. Curfman was elected chief executive to succeed John Moore, and Reginald Bush was elected to the number two position. John Moore succeeded Nina Baccanari as treasurer of the Association.


Dr. Curfman had been involved in the seminal meetings leading to the establishment of the Association, donated the program covers in 1992 and supported the effort financially each year with an inside-cover "advertisement" in the program booklet featuring specially-chosen historical artwork relating to Columbus. (Return to Outline of this Article)


The new president, as the chief executive was now called, introduced an attractive gold-plated membership pin, and certificate with embossed and beribboned gold seal, to reach out for membership and participation to various patriotic societies that have a focus on historical events up through the American Revolution. Insignia of office were also introduced, featuring the logo from the pin and the seal, suspended on a neck ribbon incorporating the colors from Columbus's coat of arms.


On July 29 the board simplified the dues structure to have only three types of members: commercial ($100), nonprofit organization ($75), and individual ($25). The August board meeting also decided to waive, at least for the present, the former policy of restricting wreath-laying as a privilege of membership in the Association,


The 1995 ceremonies were streamlined, with a single Columbus Day Address, by Dr. Jose Luis Restrepo, Special Advisor to the Secretary General of the OAS, and an essay reading by student Daniel D. Lupini, winner of a national essay contest on Columbus sponsored by OSIA, who had been brought from his home in Fullerton, California at WCCA expense. As in the past, the embassies of Spain, Italy, and the Commonwealth of the Bahamas were represented. The DeMatha Band and the Navy's Sea Chanters furnished the music. In implementation of the new policy on wreath presenters, the program booklet listed (in addition to seventeen of the usual organizations) fifteen patriotic societies new to the celebration, plus the U.S.-Mexico Chamber of Commerce and the Hispanic Cultural Organization of Maryland--for a total of 34 wreath-presenters. At the very beginning of the entire ceremonies they entered in procession preceded by the Columbus Expeditionary Banner, to take their reserved seats in the front. (NIAF generously sponsored a Capitol Hill reception for wreath-presenters and dais guests following the ceremony, to be repeated in subsequent years.)


The ceremonies included a presentation to former chairman John Moore of a special Founding Chairman Emeritus Medal based on the same design as the officers' insignia. (The tribute is on p. 22 of the 1996 program booklet.)


The 1995 program booklet had grown to 48 pages, with an attractive cover donated by the new president featuring a color reproduction of a richly-illustrated souvenir ribbon from the quadricentennial Columbus Day celebration in 1892. The president had concentrated on reaching out to acquaintances in patriotic societies for memberships and participation in the program, and 54 individual members are listed in the program book, along with 12 K. of C. entities, 4 OSIA lodges, 3 other Italian organizations (NIAF, the Lido Club, and the Fr. DeCarlo Post of the CWV) and two commercial organizations. At the general meeting several additional members were added to the board: Richard J. Higgins of NIAF (formerly U.S. Consul in Genoa), Paul Biciocchi of the Lido Club, Hector Diaz of Hispanics in History, and Anthony Tringale; Daniel Quaid and Louis Figliozzi became honorary board members. The general membership also voted a resolution to commend the President at the end of his first year in office "for the success of this year's celebration and for his efforts for the growth and development of the Association, building on the foundations of the past." (Return to Outline of this Article)


The Columbus Day Address in 1996 was delivered by Dr. James Patrick Kiernan, Historian of the OAS. The youth speaker, through the courtesy of NIAF, was Elizabeth Salamone of Oakton, Virginia. Included in the ceremony was the presentation of a special Distinguished Officer Medal to retiring secretary and former treasurer, Edward M. Sullivan, who along with John Moore was one of the two remaining members of the original board, and like him had served as an officer from the beginning. Music was provided by the Bishop McNamara High School Symphonic Band, and 33 wreath-presenters are listed in the program book, It was estimated that there were about 650 people at the ceremony.


Two of the participating organizations, the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) and the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR), announced at the ceremonies the initiation of a national Columbus essay contest open to students of all racial and ethnic groups in Grades 9 and 10, with NSDAR administering the contest and NIAF providing a $1,000 prize and transportation for two to Washington where the winner would read the winning essay at the 1997 Columbus Day Ceremonies.


This was the 25th anniversary of the first celebration of Columbus Day as a federal holiday, and the program book, now grown to 52 pages, presented a history of that development, along with a history of the local Knights of Columbus, who were then commencing the 100th anniversary of their establishment in the area, and had been intimately involved with the original establishment of the national Columbus Memorial, the subsequent annual celebrations at the site, and establishment of WCCA. The cover featured a striking color reproduction of the cover of the banquet program for the 1912 banquet sponsored by the K. of C. at the time of the unveiling. The number of individual members listed in the booklet had grown to 85, with essentially the same organizational and commercial membership as previously.


Revision and updating of the by laws was brought to completion by Richard Higgins, who had been elected to the previously unfilled position of Counsel in January, and the new by laws were approved at the general meeting on November 24. At the same time the membership enthusiastically approved in principle a resolution naming Columbus as "Man of the Millennium" (reproduced in the 1997 program booklet) and a proposal for securing its adoption by other organizations. Thomas B. Lank (of the K. of C.) was elected to the Board and, at its next meeting, to the position of Secretary. (Return to Outline of this Article)


This year marked the eighty-fifth anniversary of the 1912 unveiling of the national Columbus Memorial. The program book, now fifty-six pages, again used on its cover the color image of the original banquet program from that event, and inside reproduced the text of the program booklet for the original entire 1912 weekend celebration, along with later descriptions of those events.


The membership list in the booklet had now grown to 115 individual members, along with the usual organizational members (with slight changes in the latter), for a total of 140. Newly listed on the board members were Robert Barbuto and Lourdes S. Morales (Cultural Hispanic Organization of Maryland).


At the civic ceremonies the invocation was given by Rev. Dr. Lloyd J. Ogilvie, Chaplain of the U.S. Senate, and music provided by the United States Army Band. The Columbus Day Address was delivered by Dr, Ana Maria Snell of Johns Hopkins University on the subject of Queen Isabella: "A Queen and an Explorer Meet." Highlight of the program was the presentation by Mrs. Charles Keil Kemper, President General of the D.A.R. and Dr. A. Kenneth Ciongoli, President of NIAF, of the first winner of what would become the annual NIAF-NSDAR Columbus essay contest: Crissia Ahnna Reay of Wonder Lake, Illinois, who read her essay comparing the importance of the voyages of Christopher Columbus and Amerigo Vespucci. There had been 1,709 entries from all around the country. Thirty-three organizations, now including the Organization of American States. presented wreaths, (Return to Outline of this Article)


The 1998 celebration had a further streamlining of the ceremonies by the elimination of the Columbus Day address, with the chief focus now on the reading of the winning essay in the second national NIAF-NSDAR contest. Ryan A. Stoner (coincidentally from nearby Fairfax, Virginia), read his essay on "The Legacy of Christopher Columbus," his research quite evidently in tune with the modern age, drawing as it did on some resources available only on CD-ROM and on the internet. Again Dr. Ogilvie gave the invocation. Music was provided by the United States Marine Band, then celebrating its own centennial.


A special "Distinguished Member" presentation was made to Gustave S. Weber of the Knights of Columbus, who had served as editor, writer, and composition and production manager of the program booklet since its beginning six years earlier, The program booklet over the years was largely handled by Knights of Columbus, who also provided most of the advertising and advertising sales. However, production of the full color cover--a costly item--had at times been donated by others, such as Dr. Curfman in a couple of years. This year's cover, donated by the Lido Club, reproduced a mosaic of Columbus from the Palazzo Tursi (now the Town Hall) in Genoa, the city where Columbus was born,


An updated list of the membership on a special insert showed 110 individual, twenty organizational, and two commercial members, for a total of 140 paid memberships. In addition, the following honorary memberships, which had been conferred over the years, were listed: The Archdiocese of Washington; the United States Army Band (Col. L. Byron Shelburne, Jr., Director); Virgil C. Dechant, Supreme Knight, K. of C.; Doria Dean Elton Kemper (former President-General, NSDAR), James Patrick Kiernan (Historian, OAS); Jose Luis Restrepo (Special Advisor to the Secretary General, OAS); Rev. Msgr. Roger C. Roensch (former Chaplain to the DC K.of C. and for many years celebrant at the Sunday religious observance); and Dr. Ana Maria Snell (who delivered the 1997 Columbus Day Address).


The Board of Directors contained two new names: Robert Royal (of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington), and Gustav W. Weber.


Attendance at the separate religious celebration on the preceding Sunday at Holy Rosary Church, recognized by the Association but handled by the Lido Club and the Knights of Columbus, was greatly enhanced this year by an Italian Street Festival sponsored by another group immediately following, and apparently to be repeated in subsequent years.


On the Threshold of the New Millennium: WCCA Becomes NCCA


With the growing membership including many from other states, with twenty wreath-presenters coming from other states, and with the ceremonies at the national Columbus Memorial now being the focus of a national essay contest sponsored by two other national organizations, the time seemed ripe to reclaim the title "National Christopher Columbus Celebration" that had been used in the 1970s, and rename the Association to reflect what it had actually become: "The National Columbus Celebration Association." At the general membership meeting on June 15, two weeks short of the tenth anniversary of the founding of the Association, the change was made, to accord with the new reality.



National Christopher Columbus Association - 5034 Wisconsin Avenue, NW - Washington, D.C. 20016-4125