Published Monday, April 12, 2021
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
Juan Santamaría, born in August 1831 in Rivas, Nicaragua, was officially recognized as a national hero in 2011 when Congress approved the proposal to celebrate the official day of one of the most remembered Nicaraguans in the country's history.
Since then, April 11 has been marked as the official day of Juan Santamaría. However, the celebration of the recognition of the soldier has been celebrated in the country since 1915, according to the Ministry of Education.
According to the Ministry, for many Costa Ricans, Juan Santamaría represents the sacrifice of the people that fought for independence. He was a drummer in the Costa Rican army recognized as the national hero for his actions in the Second Battle of Rivas. He died in the battle carrying a torch he used to light the enemy stronghold on fire, achieving a victory for Costa Rica against the so-called invading troops led by the U.S. citizen William Walker.
The lesser-known as the Second Battle of Rivas took place in 1856 between Walker's forces and the forces of the Chamorro government of Nicaragua.
Another battle against Walker's forces, also celebrated in Costa Rica as a holiday happened on March 20, 1856, known as the Battle of Santa Rosa.
Historical details about that battle were published in AM Costa Rica on March 22, on the article titled "Country commemorates 165th anniversary of the battle against US invaders."
In recognition of the hero Santamaría, in September 1891 the bronze statue, made by the French sculptor Aristide Croisy, was inaugurated in the Juan Santamaría Park in Alajuela Province.
In 1971, during the presidency of Daniel Oduber Quirós, the name of the hero was given to Alajuela international airport. Three years later, in 1974 the Juan Santamaría Cultural Historical Museum was founded, located in the central city of Alajuela Province.
The museum exhibits a large collection of writings, paintings, old drawings and numerous historical studies on the feat of Juan Santamaría and what that meant for the development of the country.
On Sunday, Juan Santamaría Day was commemorated by the authorities, in a simple ceremony, without the traditional celebrations, for the second consecutive year, due to the sanitary guidelines ordered by the National Decree of Sanitary Emergency to contain the covid-19 infections.
President Carlos Alvarado gave tribute to the memory of the soldier Juan Santamaría with a floral offering at his statue.
According to Alvarado, the best way to honor his memory is through work. “You have to work hard, you have to work for the progress of our country. Today, in particular, work and take care of yourself due to the pandemic.”
“The heroes (of today) are the men and women who, in their different circumstances, get ahead, to work and to protect their families. That is the most important thing that the heroes of Costa Rica have,” added President Alvarado, remembering the National Hero.
Although the holiday was celebrated on a Sunday, the Ministry of Public Works notes that if regular employees had to work, they must receive double pay.
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