American Heritage: The adventure continuesPublished 12:07am Thursday, January 19, 2012
“If we and our posterity reject religious instruction and authority, violate the rules of eternal justice, trifle with the injunctions of morality, and recklessly destroy the political constitution which holds us together, no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us and bury all our glory in profound obscurity.” (Daniel Webster, Writings and Speeches, Vol. 13, 492)
We pick up our journey at the point where Christopher Columbus and his crews have seen signs that land was near. Branches from bushes, grass and even a carved staff came alongside their ships.
All of this happened on the early morning of the day that was set as the deadline for continuing the journey. If land is not sited on this day, Columbus had agreed to turn back. The day – Oct. 12, 1492. “Columbus had been guided by the same mighty hand over the desert of the ocean, to a spot from which his joyful eyes beheld the unknown land, on which his thoughts and hopes had been for many years engaged” (Life of Washington, pg. 11).
Columbus had considered himself to be the Moses of his day. He was appointed, as he deeply believed, by God to find this new, promised land just as Moses was appointed by the Lord to lead his people to their promised land.
As Columbus looked across the water to the land he had pursued for the past 69 days, he saw a beautiful site. The island was flat and was covered with beautiful trees.
As he gazed at this paradise, he noticed that it was inhabited. People were running from the trees to the shoreline. They were looking out at Columbus and his crews and ships. They were marveling at the sight that they saw. This is something they had never seen before.
Columbus had his crew prepare small boats that would be used to make the last part of their journey. Now his dream was about to become a reality. He would soon place his feet on the soil of the “promised land.” This is the land that God had placed on his heart a long time ago. Soon he would be able to actually touch what was only a dream days ago.
It was past noon on Oct. 12, 1492, when Christopher Columbus and his crews mounted their small boats to be transported to land. Upon reaching the shoreline, the tide had gone out and they could not ride the boats to dry land. So he and his men waded to dry land.
Columbus was the first to touch dry land, followed by the Pinzon brothers. In his hand was a huge white flag that had a green cross on it, along with the crowned initials of Ferdinand and Isabella, the King and Queen, on each side of it.
Columbus had a special eight-foot oak cross made before they left their homeland. Some of the crew members dug a deep hole and planted the cross on the shore. Columbus declared this “promised land” San Salvador, which means “Holy Savior.”
It was at this moment when Christopher Columbus fell upon his knees and uttered a prayer. The words were recorded by him: “Oh Lord, Almighty and everlasting God, by thy Holy Word Thou hast created the heaven, and the earth, and the sea; blessed and glorified be Thy Name, and praised be Thy Majesty, which hath designed to use us, Thy humble servants, that Thy Holy Name may be proclaimed in this second part of the earth.”
As he and his men had reached land, the natives who were observing them ran and took cover among the trees. They continued to observe what was being revealed before their eyes. What they saw scared them.
Why? Columbus and his men were arrayed in shining armor. It brightly glittered in the bright sunshine of the day. The natives had never seen anything like this before. They were not accustomed to seeing men in clothes before, let alone glittering armor. The men they looked upon were different than they. They had skin that shined.
As they had observed the ships on the horizon, it was as if the ships had dropped out of the clouds. In fact, Columbus and his crew noticed them making signs with their hands as though they were indicating that they thought that Columbus and his men had dropped out of the sky in ships with great wings (the sails of the ships). Were these gods who came to visit their land?
As they observed these “gods,” they noticed their joy and laughter. These “gods” were happy and not angry “gods.” They decided that it was ok to show themselves. They began to slowly come out of their hiding places among the trees.
Later Columbus recorded his observation as he saw the people coming forth: “…no large bellies on them.” He also noted that they were naked, but with no shame. Also seen in his notes was that the people were not acquainted with weapons of war because when they examined his swords “…they took them by the blade and cut themselves.”
So Columbus has now seen his “promised land.” He has met a friendly people. We will close this article with his words written to the King concerning these people.
“So that they might be well-disposed towards us, for I knew that they were a people to be delivered and converted to our holy faith rather by love than by force, I gave some red caps and things…” (The Light and Glory, Pg. 44). The things were recorded as being “…glass beads, and other trifles, which they received with wonder and gladness, and brought in return cakes, formed from the roots of plants which they cultivated in their fields” (Life of George Washington, pg. 12). “At this they were greatly pleased and became so entirely our friends that it was a wonder to see…I believe that they would easily be made Christians, for it seemed to me that they had no religion of their own. Our Lord willing, when I depart, I shall bring back six of them to your Highness, that they may learn to talk our language.” (The Light and Glory, Pg. 44).