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Sep 12, 2016

Celebrating the Battle of St. George’s Caye in Belize City

It was first actually celebrated only more than a century ago, but the Battle of St. George’s Caye has become one of the two pillars of the September Celebrations – the other being Independence Day. This past Saturday saw Belizeans converge at the Memorial Park for the official ceremony and other assorted bells and whistles. Correspondent Aaron Humes has a report.

 

Aaron Humes, Reporting

Saturday, September tenth saw the two hundredth and eighteenth anniversary of the Battle of St. George’s Caye, considered the catalyst for the establishment of a modern independent nation. In 1798, a combination of British settlers known as Baymen and loyal slaves as well as free people of colour formed an unusual alliance to defeat a Spanish fleet from Veracruz intent on razing the settlement as they had almost twenty years before. The rest, as some say, is history – but in his opening remarks, Belize City Mayor Darrell Bradley said the sacrifices of our ancestors then can serve as inspiration for modern Belizeans.

 

Darrell Bradley

Darrell Bradley, Mayor of Belize City

“But in honouring them today, we should embrace the fact that we are the inheritors of their great legacy; that we have inherited their spirit, a spirit of endurance, of purpose, of courage; that we have within our national character the potential to rise above our differences and to unite as one people, facing today’s battles head on, with optimism and fearless resolve. That as stewards of this homeland, we should commit ourselves to live more like the Baymen; serving our nation and each other with selfless devotion and fervent pride; so that our celebration of the memory of the Baymen today is not hollow, and that we truly honor them by living lives worthy their great sacrifice.”

 

Meanwhile, Culture Minister and co-chair of the National September Celebrations Commission, Elodio Aragon Junior, spoke about some of the values inculcated in the lives of the original settlers, whether slave or free, and how they translate to modern Belizeans.

 

Elodio Aragon Jr.

Elodio Aragon Jr., Co-Chair, National September Celebrations Commission

“While we celebrate with joy, we must never fail to draw inspiration from the struggles and victory of September, 1798. When faced with challenges and hardships, we should never give in, especially when our greatest treasure – our sovereignty and independence – are at stake. Rather, we should look inward to that enduring nationalism, and rekindle again and again our love for our country – a country that has been bequeathed to us by the long struggle of our forefathers and fore mothers. So inspired, we should stand boldly and proud. We must turn on our creativity and ingenuity, at full force. With unwavering dedication, we must build up and transform Belize. This is our obligation and our duty, to be as our theme states, “Sovereign and Strong – Together As One.”

 

Another feature of the annual ceremony is the formal coronation of the Queen of the Bay by her predecessor. Reigning queen Falon Cain formally handed over to Cristalyn Castillo; both young women hail from Stann Creek District.  Following the official ceremonies in Belize City was the traditional Citizens’ Parade, which this year ended at Yabra Green, site of the Municipal Multicultural Fair. Similar ceremonies were held nationwide. Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.

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