Monday, April 11, 2011

Every April 11, Costa Rica celebrates victory over Nashville man

Photo by Ruth.  Statue of Juan Santamaria in upper left.

Costa Ricans are celebrating a national holiday today - and a three-day weekend - all because of the country's famous eviction of a Nashville man.

On April 11, 1856 (155 years ago!) a young Nashvillian named William Walker was in the middle of his various attempted conquests of Latin American nations. This day would end up being one of many days of defeat for Walker, and this time it was at the hands of a Costa Rican soldier even younger than Walker, a drummer boy named Juan Santamaria. Walker is remembered as a pirate, a foreign invader, even a mercenary, and Santamaria is remembered as the martyr who burned down the hostel where Walker was staying, forcing Walker's escape.

Santamaria remains a Costa Rican national hero, with not just a holiday but a prominent statue and park, a museum, and the country's main airport named after him (if you've ever been to Costa Rica, you've been in the Juan Santamaria airport).

Parades will be held in Santamaria's honor today all across Costa Rica.

The phrase "I'm from Nashville" will surely elicit friendly overtures from modern-day Costa Ricans, but be forewarned that it might conjure up a little history, as well.

Happy Juan Santamaria Day.

For a pretty darn good (if I do say so myself) background on this holiday and on Walker and his prominent role in history, read my 2009 report, here.

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