A Transcendental Historical Date / Fernando Dámaso

On February 24 it will be one more anniversary of the Grito de Baire–Battle Cry of Baire–a date which marked the beginning of the War of Independence which defeated the colonial regime and allowed the establishment of the Republic and the emergence of Cuba as a new state. Throughout the first half of the twentieth century, this day was celebrated across the nation with pride and joy, waving the national flag and celebrating acts of remembrance in towns and cities. Along with the 10 October (Grito de Yara) and 20 May (Day of the Establishment of the Republic) these were the most important dates of the national civic holiday calendar.

From the early sixties, the only one left as a civic date of celebration was October 10, the May 20th date disappeared and the February 24th date was limited only to acts of a governmental nature, losing its deep popular content and national identity. They were replaced by other dates related to the process by which the new rulers came to power. This historic shift, despite the efforts and resources invested in its creation, has never reached the popular content or the spontaneity of the celebrations replaced. Maybe it’s because the traditions are reluctant to give way to decrees and regulations.

This February 24 the national flag does not decorate the facades of buildings and homes, and only brief press releases mark the date, but at the heart of every honest Cuban, wherever he is, is excitement about the 95 men, led by Martí, Gómez and Maceo, who were able to imagine a nation and, with words and weapons, were given the task of achieving it.

The country and the Republic, born of the struggle begun in 1868 and before, renewed in 1895, like all human works, were not perfect, but step by step from the beginning, they achieved prosperity and development in all areas, a source of national pride and foreign admiration, who saw in them a place worth living, becoming a nation of immigrants received from around the world, who settled and founded Cuban families and participated in the creation of our wealth.

I’ve never understood the hanging of Cuban flags on September 28 (Day of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution), nor on October 10 or February 24. Is it that the first date is more important than the latter two? Nobody in their right mind would accept it. The current generations and the new, when, sooner rather than later our history is revalued, putting in its rightful place every fact and figure according to its actual importance, till reinstall the February 24 date as the important civic date it always was, again, spontaneously, and without anyone to guide it, will return the presence of the national flag in our towns and cities, waving proudly for all Cubans.

February 21 2011