Rather than spending a day celebrating or denigrating this particular 15th century adventurer, I could wish for a "Colonialism Day" - akin to Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of reflection and atonement. It should be a day to think on the human genius for exploration, discovery, exploitation and genocide.
There are many things I value about our civilization and the civilizations we are sprung from -- but for all the glories draped upon their shoulders, each stands knee deep in blood and human suffering. Pretending otherwise seems a dangerous and damaging delusion.
This should be a day to reflect from our imperial heights - even as we each push in our own ways to make the world a better place - even as our nation's bombs fall in Asia - even as our policies ensure that the goods that flow towards us are wrung from the labor of the world's poor and vulnerable.
If we build our own standard of living on suffering and the stunting of others' lives, we should at the very least know that fact.
Even if on that day the stale pleasures of consumerism turn to ashes in our mouths.