Happy Independence Day

The anniversary of September 15, 1821 is annually celebrated throughout Central America to honor the date on which the region became independent from the Spanish Empire.  Although the first cries for freedom rang out on November 5, 1811, and El Salvador did not become an independent nation until 1838, Salvadorans unite themselves with the people of Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras and Costa Rica in celebration on September 15th.

Schools in El Salvador spend the month of September practicing for parades and celebratory events.  In truth, a good amount of scholastic time is lost as children make banners and flags, decorate their schools, and practice marching.  For older students, the month of September is a little bit like homecoming celebrations in the United States.  The schools often elect a queen.  Balloons and streamers are everywhere.  Baton twirlers and dance squads practice their routines with the school marching band (or at least a drum line).  On parade day, proud parents line the route, ready with towels to mop sweat off of their daughters' faces, Gatorade to hydrate the marchers during the long, hot procession, and cell phones to record the sights and sounds.

We spent this Independence Day in the small town of Tonacatepeque.  We started the morning with the preschool children from our sister church community and then wandered around with friends as we waited for the parade to begin.  We listened to a few speeches, enjoyed cultural presentations, and then watched the marchers from a couple of different vantage points.  Here are a few photos from today's celebration. ¡Feliz Día de Independencia!

Because closing the main highway to the north for a parade is no big deal?
Sometimes getting to your parade is the most difficult part of the day!
This one will not win any photography awards,
but I just had to get a pic of these classy band uniforms (Apopa)

Little children traditionally dress in costumes which reflect 
what careers they would like to have when they are grown.
This little reporter "took a photo" of a local member of the press whose 
camera was not exactly made of fun foam.

Ceremonial placing of gold wreaths in the town square.  My favorite part of this
moment was the little kid in the blue shirt, proudly waving his flag in time to
the recorded music (The National Anthem)

Elementary school children singing El Salvador's national
anthem in Nahuat, the language of the Pipil people.
The friend I was with was very emotional about this moment.
She was hearing the language of her ancestors.
The crowds were pretty impressive
Little twirler oops

Kindergarten ballerinas

Traditional dance attire

The Twirling Team

Folk Dance

Older students marching in the parade

One of the marching bands

Students carried the flags of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Costa Rica


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