Last weekend, the streets of Union City and West New York erupted with joyful chants as locals shouted “Long Live Peru.”
Last Monday, July 28, is the day Peruvians all over the world celebrate Independence Day and show their appreciation of their flag, native land, and freedom.
The International Park of Union City located on 38th street and Palisade Ave., allowed the community to view the raising of the Peruvian flag. After loyal Peruvian residents sang the Peruvian National Anthem and watched the colors of the flag, red and white, wave as it rose; Brian P. Stack commented on the importance of the Peruvian community and the role they play in Union City.
“The Peruvian community is one that thrives in business. We thank you for your contributions,” said Union City Mayor, Brian P. Stack.
Accompanied by the Board of Commissioners, Mayor Brian P. Stack, was happy to commemorate and announce some of the most distinguish Peruvian residents in Union City; Felix and Martha Araujo, Mirtha Aguirre, Lizeth Fernandine, Danny Barrientos, Felix V. Araujo, Freddy A. Araujo, Dr. Carlos Tello Valcarcel, Cesar Malqui, Jorge Lazo Escalante and Victor Sebastiani.
Animated with dancers, the Independiente VIP school Dance de Kearny, and the Shacshas Hijos de Paramonga from Union City, the celebration gave a small preview of the Peruvian culture.
“This dance that we represent is typical for the department of Ancash/ Huaraz,” said Jesus Caro, a Union City resident.
WNY also celebrates
Union City was not the only town to celebrate. WNY residents, West New York Mayor Sal Vega, the Brotherhood of San Martin de Porres, celebrated Peruvian Independence day on Saturday, July 26, in West New York’s Town Hall.
The Brotherhood of San Martin de Porres awarded Mayor Sal Vega and the board of commissioners a plaque which gave them recognition for their continued support.
Mayor Sal Vega also addressed the Peruvian community saying, “I’m very proud of being here today. The Peruvian community has done much for West New York.”
Although the ceremony wasn’t large, many people were grateful.
“Today everyone would be celebrating with fireworks and feasts. On the 28th, the president speaks to congress and to the people, and on the 29th there’s always a military parade in Peru,” said Peruvian, North Bergen resident Dorila Solano.
Remembering the past
Peru was kept under Spanish rule from the 16th century until 1821, when they finally reached Independence. Jose De San Martin, an Argentinean general and leader, proclaimed the Independence of Peru.
Today, Peruvians still remember and celebrate the emancipation of Peru.
Although Jose De San Martin was successful in his attempts to reach Peruvian Independence, there were still many obstacles that Peru had to overcome. Beginning with territorial disputes and ending with Democratic restoration, Peru has undergone many changes to become what it is today.
That is why the importance of educating young Peruvians in the United States is one that both WNY and Union City residents share.
Peruvian resident Solano said, “Children learn about their roots from their parents, and these events help them value patriotic acts that occurred in the country they came from.”
Emotional Union City resident, Jesus Caro commented, “In my case, I have two daughters that were born here in the United States. We want them to know where they came from, their roots. It’s beautiful when they know enough to pass it to their children and keep their roots alive generation to generation.”
He is hopeful that his girls could one day keep the Peruvian tradition of celebrating Independence Day and pass it to future generations, he said.
Caro keeps trying to find ways to connect them back to their roots.
Other Union City and West New York residents who attended the ceremony were moved by watching the flag rise.
“It doesn’t take a Peruvian to feel emotionally overwhelmed by events like these,” Ecuadorian Julio Alvarez said. “Watching all these people here celebrating the independence of their country is exciting, and speaks well about their culture.”
This Sunday, July 27, there will be a festival in Paterson to celebrate Peruvian Independence day. There will be colorful floats, traditional dance groups, and typical Peruvian food, honoring all Peruvians living in the United States.
“Last Sunday we were in Kearny and this Sunday we will be in Paterson representing the Union City Community. We were the number one supporters for the parade in Kearny and we hope to be in Paterson,” said Caro.
Eduardo Solano, a North Bergen resident, is a collaborator of the San Martin De Porres brotherhood. San Martin De Porres brotherhood was founded 10 years ago by a group of Peruvians who were residents in West New York, North Bergen, and Guttenberg.
Solano delivered a short speech that reminded all other Peruvians about patriotism, pride, and the sense of peace Independence brought to Peru:
“The value of a nation and its ideals is measured by the strength of its decisions,” Solano said. “As we commemorate the 187th anniversary of the National Independence of Peru in the City of West New York, under the hospitality of Mr. Vega, Mayor of the city, I allow myself to extend fraternal greetings, very cordial, with wishes of prosperity, happiness, and union to all members of the Peruvian community in the United States of America on behalf of the Brotherhood of San. Martin de Porres, which brings together Peruvians living in these contours and reaches out to other friends.”
Welcoming the future
A moment of silence was dedicated to the memory of Felix Araujo Sr., a Union City resident who passed away. His wife, Martha Araujo, and his sons, Felix V. Araujo and Freddy A. Araujo, were honored and received flowers on his behalf.
Felix Araujo was one of the first people Stack met upon his arrival in Union City. Stack said a few words in honor of Felix Araujo Sr.
“I was a very good friend of Felix Araujo… We couldn’t have a better family residing in Union City,” he said.
Mayor Brian P. Stack, Mayor Sal Vega and Board of Commissioners of UC and WNY have always been a part of every Independence Day celebration. The Peruvian Independence Day ceremony won’t be the last.
“We thank you for your contributions and we welcome you to continue growing with your family,” said Stack. As Mayor Stack finished speaking, the crowd cheered, “Long live Peru!”
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“Children learn about their roots from their parents, and these events help them value patriotic acts that occurred in the country they came from.” – Dorila Solano