Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. -Mark Twain

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Mexico's Bicentennial: The Shout of Independence


On this 200th anniversary of Mexico's independence, I thought it would be appropriate to show a bit of the famous "El Grito" that rings in Mexico's Independence Day throughout the country. Here, courtesy of Wikipedia (because I'm too lazy to write it myself), is a history of the event.

The Grito de Dolores ("Cry of Dolores") was the battle cry of the Mexican War of Independence also known as El Grito de la Independencia ("Cry of Independence"), uttered on September 16, 1810 by Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a Roman Catholic priest from the small town of Dolores, near Guanajuato.

Hidalgo and several criollos were involved in a planned revolt against the Spanish colonial government, and the plotters were betrayed. Fearing his arrest, Hidalgo commanded his brother Mauricio, as well as Ignacio Allende and Mariano Abasolo to go with a number of other armed men to make the sheriff release the pro-independence inmates there on the night of 15 September. They managed to set eighty free. Just before midnight on September 15, 1810, Hidalgo ordered the church bells to be rung and gathered his congregation. Flanked by Allende and Juan Aldama, he addressed the people in front of his church, encouraging them to revolt:
My children: a new dispensation comes to us today. Will you receive it? Will you free yourselves? Will you recover the lands stolen by three hundred years ago from your forefathers by the hated Spaniards? We must act at once… Will you defend your religion and your rights as true patriots? Long live our Lady of Guadalupe! Death to bad government! Death to the gachupines!

The Battle of Guanajuato, the first major engagement of the insurgency, occurred 4 days later. Mexico's independence would not be effectively declared from Spain in the Declaration of Independence of the Mexican Empire until September 27, 1821, after a decade of war.

This event has since assumed an almost mythic status, and Hidalgo y Costilla’s "cry of independence" has become emblematic of Mexican independence. Each year on the night of September 15, the President of Mexico rings the bell of the National Palace in Mexico City. He repeats a cry of patriotism (a Grito Mexicano) based upon the "Grito de Dolores" from the balcony of the palace to the assembled crowd in the Plaza de la Constitución, or Zócalo, one of the largest public plazas in the world. This event draws up to half a million spectators. On the dawn of September 16, or Independence Day, the national military parade starts in the Zócalo, passes the Hidalgo Memorial and ends on the Paseo de la Reforma, Mexico City’s main boulevard.

A similar celebration occurs in cities and towns all over Mexico (including Puerto Penasco). The mayor (or governor, in the case of state capitals), rings a bell and gives the traditional words.

Here is a video of the celebration. Just before the 2-minute mark President Felipe Calderón leads the Republic of Mexico in the traditional "grito" (shout) of independence from the National Palace on the zócalo of Mexico City.



As you watch this celebration, say a prayer for Mexico and all her people.

¡Viva México!