These are the words I can remember of my childhood days as we sang the most popular song of the times in connection with the celebration of the Battle of Saint George’s Caye: “It was the tenth day of September, the ninety eighth ano domimi, when our forefathers won that glorious fight, the Battle of St. George’s Caye. Hip, hip, hurrah! (repeated 4 times)
And how come I remember them? We all do because the teachers drilled them for us for one month before the patriotic celebrations and if we failed to learn the words of the song, we got a sound whipping. For some reasons, the parts liked by most children was the “Hip, hip, hurrah” That was easy to remember.
That was easy to shout and have the teacher feel like we knew the words. We did not know that hurrah means bravo, but we knew that it was some sort of proclamation of something good. When we did something good in class, the teacher would remark, “hurrah” so we knew that it was something good.
The day of the tenth of September arrived and we would wake up early and have dad nail a small cloth flag unto a piece of stick, because if we did not the teacher would lash us too. We put on our blue and white uniforms and headed to the primary school ready to start the parade. The teachers all had a little stick in their hands to discharge it on those who were unruly or those who did not sing.
All one hundred or so children started the parade and sang their hearts away and waved their British flags, the Union Jacks. We did not know why they were called they Union Jack flag, and I still don’t and I don’t care. All I knew was that if I waved it and behaved alright, everything would be okay. The parade or march, as we used to call it, was strictly for school children, no adults, no floats, no band, no nothing else. The parade was jovial, considered the greatest parade in the village.
Immediately after the parade, the teachers would give us a bag of goodies worth 25 cents. It included chewing gum, candies, and cookies. The teachers prepared the bags with money sent by the government. Sometimes the teachers were lazy and gave us the 25 cents. In the afternoon we returned to the school, now out of uniforms, to participate in competitive games like running, lime and spoon, sack race. First place got another bag of goodies or 25 cents.
All the children tried to participate in some game in order to win some goodies and because all the parents were there present watching the games. It was like Olympics in San Pedro – an event that the village spoke about for many days thereafter.
It is proper to mention that the park was decorated with some palms, and some people placed palms around the village for some greenery. After the tenth parade, the decorations remained for some days more, and so ended the celebrations of the Tenth of September 25 years ago.
– by Angel Nuñez, Columnist