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Box 512 Capitola, CA 95010 By Richard Steltzner Do you know who named America? Hint: It happened in 1507. knowledge. It's time to celebrate
The 500th anniversary of the naming of America presents us a key to open the door to worldwide learning of planet Earth beyond the boundaries of nationalism, race and religion. History bestows upon us this momentous occasion at the beginning of the 21st century. As Riccardo Gaudino, historian for the America500 Birthday Organizing Committee explains: “America was born in the human spirit of innovation in 1507, when cartographer Martin Waldseemuller printed the globe map that named America, South and North, at Ville St. Die, France.” The designation “America” first appeared on the area we now call Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina. The name was created to honor the Italian astronomer-navigator Amerigo Vespucci for his Renaissance conclusions in math that accurately measured the circumference of the earth. This first globe map marked a turning point in humanity’s understanding of planet Earth. It awakened the imagination of Europeans and energized a thirst for knowledge and exploration. America500 Birthday celebrates the spirit that made the first map to depict a new continent and a new ocean, using the then-newest technology of the printing press. Today, America500 Birthday uses the Internet and celebrations of local history to champion public awareness of “Who Named America?” For the rest of this year and into next, our Organizing Committee encourages local residents to bring home the spirit of history in their towns and re-awaken our youth, who no longer turn to astronomy, math, geography, climatology, botany, global transportation or cultural settlement to understand our world. Yet what began happening 500 years ago — the movement of goods and people based upon available resources — is a framework for understanding history. The America500 Birthday Committee got its start in 2001, inspired by the Milan, Italy, cartography exhibition “La Terra,” which celebrated new views of “earth from space” in the 21st century. Upon viewing the exhibit, Gaudino realized that the 500th anniversary of the naming of America provided a unique opportunity to reach out and share all of our stories, beginning with the simple question, “Who Named America?” The answer expands our identity by unlocking awareness of 500 years of knowledge in planetary history, not just our national political story. The answer links the meaning of the word “America” to its origin, both in geography and innovation. America500 Birthday now includes the people of all the Americas who share a common experience as natives of, and uprooted strangers in, this land. Indeed, the words “America” and “birthday” energize residents in each community to open up their local window to the world, explore their history and animate a distinct celebration. This year, 100+ communities worldwide have issued proclamations to champion public awareness of this little known fact of America’s
name. In the US, a nationwide movement was supported by Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL23), who introduced H.Res 287 America, named the “Who Named America?” bill that passed unanimously on July 11. Now, concerned citizens want improve our knowledge with a “Who Named America?” airmail stamp for worldwide learning. Germany has already issued the first stamp commemorating America’s 500th birthday. Countries in the Americas should do the same. Help bring this goal to reality. Join with US House members Sam Farr (DCA), Bob Filner (D-CA), Alcee Hastings (D-FL) and Joseph Crowley (D-NY). Please write to U.S. Postmaster General John E. Potter, 475 L’Enfant Plaza SW, Room 10022, Washington DC, 20260 email@example.com The author, a Yountville vintner, is the 2007 co-chair for the America500 Birthday Organizing Committee