Da Gama, Vasco: (c.1469–1524), Portuguese explorer
There was a hundred-year time span in Europe when explorers were as plentiful as singers auditioning for American Idol.
It suddenly became popular to beg for money for an expedition crew, to set off to the west in search of fulfilling adventures and new lands.
Since there were so many of these itinerant fortune seekers, it’s difficult to remember them individually.
Christopher Columbus certainly fared well in that category.
Henry Hudson is noted (by having a river named after him).
Cortez came along to try to explain the difference between the Inca and the Mayans.
And Coronado is mentioned by every tour guide in Arizona, illuminating the crowd about the history of the Grand Canyon.
That brings us to poor Da Gama.
He, too, was an adventurer, a captain of a ship, a man of daring and do. He sailed around the Cape of Good Hope, making it clear why someday a better path needed to be found.
He had a cool name, though.
Whereas Hudson had Henry and Columbus had Christopher, Da Gama had Vasco.
So even though you may not remember his deeds or be able to recite the extent of his itinerary, the name “Vasco” will probably stick in your mind for a long time.
It is a humbling lesson to us all—that we journey through this life and we do many things, most of which will soon be forgotten.
So keep in mind—to have an unusual name which just might spark future bored fifth-grade students who are forced to peruse the Internet during their “discovery of America history lesson” and are suddenly drawn to you…
…because your name is something like Vasco instead of Benny-Boy.