Columbus Day honors the explorer Christopher Columbus, who first landed in the New World on October 12, 1492. While Columbus's nationality has never been positively identified, many believe he was of Italian descent, and throughout the nineteenth century, Italian-Americans held celebrations in cities across the United States to honor his memory. In 1937, President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed October 12 Columbus Day. President Richard Nixon later declared Columbus Day a national holiday to be observed the second Monday of each October.
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