It’s January 9th, 2023, and Panama is celebrating Martyrs’ Day. This day is set aside every year to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of their country. For Panamanians, this is a time to reflect on the history of their nation and remember those who have died protecting it. In this blog post, we will explore the meaning behind Martyrs’ Day and why it is an important holiday in Panama. We will also look at some of the ways that Panamanians celebrate this day, as well as the many monuments that commemorate its fallen heroes.
History of Martyrs’ Day in Panama
Some Panamanians’ resentment over the Canal Zone’s ostensibly permanent cession to the United States under the terms of the Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty precipitated the celebration of Martyrs’ Day in Panama. As a result, the United States annexed the Canal Zone, and its inhabitants became known as Zonians.
In January 1963, President John F. Kennedy of the United States agreed to simultaneously fly the flags of Panama and the United States at all non-military locations in the Canal Zone. Sadly, President Kennedy was murdered before the directives were implemented. A month after the passing of President John F. Kennedy, the governor of the Panama Canal Zone, Robert J. Fleming Jr., issued an executive order limiting the president’s directive. Therefore, neither the American nor the Panamanian flags were permitted to be displayed in front of schools, police stations, post offices, or other public buildings in the Canal Zone. Numerous Zonians were outraged by the governor’s order because they viewed it as an abdication of American authority over the Canal Zone.
The dissatisfied and enraged Zonians retaliated by flying the American flag everywhere possible. After the administration of Balboa High School removed the first American flag displayed on campus, students boycotted classes, raised a second flag, and posted guards to prevent its removal. The vast majority of adults in Zonian supported the protesting students. On the afternoon of January 9, 1964, Governor Fleming departed for a meeting in Washington, D.C., because he misjudged the situation’s volatility. He was travelling from the Caribbean to the United States when he was caught up in the explosive situation.
Panama’s Martyrs’ Day is an important national holiday that serves as a reminder of the sacrifices made by the country’s heroes. As we look forward to celebrating this special day in 2023, let us remember those brave men and women who gave their lives for their nation. May we honor them by living our own lives with courage and dignity, showing respect for everyone around us regardless of race or religion. As long as Panama continues to recognize and commemorate its history, no matter how painful it may be, its citizens will be able to continue building a bright future together.
PANAMA’S MARTYRS’ DAY DATES