Several major museum exhibits did take place here that more or less reflected the above themes: “Circa 1492” at the National Gallery of Art (October 12, 1991-January 12, 1992), “Seeds of Change” at the National Museum of Natural History (October 27, 1991-April 1, 1992), and “1492: An Ongoing Voyage” at the Library of Congress. The replicas of the three ships did put into Baltimore and Annapolis in May and June, on their way up the coast. The National Park Service had a three-day program celebrating diversity at Columbus Plaza culminating in the traditional ceremonies at the Columbus Memorial on the Monday federal holiday which happily in 1992 fell on October 12.
The Civic Ceremony At the Columbus Memorial
This was the third time it was sponsored under the recently-created Washington Columbus Celebration Association (since renamed the National Columbus Celebration Association). Whereas the Knights of Columbus had opened their world-wide celebration of the Quincentenary here in conjunction with the 1991 celebration, in 1992 their focus for celebration was at their August national convention in New York, where one of the guests was Cristobal Colón, Duke of Veragua, 20th lineal descendent of the original Christopher Columbus.
Here at the Columbus Memorial the ceremonies began at 1:45 p.m., featuring addresses by U. S. Attorney Joseph E. DiGenova (“The Courage of Christopher Columbus,” subsequently reproduced in excerpted format in the 1994 program book) and historian Christopher Kauffman (“Culture and Religion: A Quincentennial Reflection”). Hon. Joseph A. DePaul was Master of Ceremonies. 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. (The pledge was modified in 1954 to include the words “under God”).
An entertaining visual break in the program was Renaissance dancing by the Nachtanz dance group, which had participated in several celebrations in earlier years. Music was provided both as a prelude at 11:30 a.m. and during the 1:45 program by the Filarmonica Sestrese Genoa Concert, on a Columbus Quincentennial tour from Italy October 9-21, which also included concerts at the White House, Palm Coast, Disneyland, and South Florida. Founded in 1845, the concert band earned accolades from Garibaldi, Mazzini and Verdi, and won awards in Switzerland, Spain, and Czechoslovakia. Director was Gianluca Silvano, with Colonel Charles Gabriele serving as guest conductor.
A souvenir program booklet was first published in 1992. With an attractive full-color cover featuring Columbus’s three ships at sea, it had 28 pages with informative background articles and courtesy advertising that provided revenue to help pay the costs of the program. Such a booklet has been published each year since, more than doubling in size.
The DAR, SAR, and CAR Program in the Columbus Club
The outdoor civic ceremony was preceded by a 10 a.m. program in the Columbus Club of Union Station, sponsored by the local chapters of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Sons of the American Revolution, and Children of the American Revolution.
It included a color guard presentation by the DC Metropolitan Police; the Pledge of Allegiance and the American Creed; a greeting by Carlo Trezza, First Counselor of the Embassy of Italy; commemorative tributes by representatives of the three sponsoring societies; stamp cancellation and cachet directed by the U.S. Postal Service; greetings from the Washington Columbus Celebration Association; skits by the CAR, directed by Dr. Frank Spindler; and several talks (Dr. David Curfman on 1492 revisited; Arne B. Molander on what Columbus really looked like; and John Verano on the biological impact of Columbus’s voyages).
The Sunday Religious Ceremony and the Lido Club Statue Donation
Holy Rosary Church, the non-territorial Italian parish near Union Station, traditionally has been site of the annual religious celebration of Columbus Day the Sunday preceding the Monday civic ceremony. The Mass in 1992 was followed by an historic event: the presentation to the parish by the Lido Civic Club of a specially-commissioned statue of Columbus (left), which stands in the courtyard between the church and the rectory. Each year since, it has been the site of a brief ceremony following the Mass, as part of the annual religious observance sponsored by the Lido Club and the District of Columbia Knights of Columbus.
The Lido Civic Club has existed since 1929, and has an economically and socially diverse membership bound by Italian-American heritage and culture. Lido Club members have long been involved in Columbus Day celebrations. Records document their participation in the early 1930s. In its wider service to the community, the Lido Club has helped many to gain a good education and sound careers through scholarships, and has given assistance to the homeless, elderly, orphans. disaster victims, and others in need.
– by Dr. Edward M. Sullivan, PhD