Today is April 11, Juan Santamaría day, the day that commemorates the drummer in the Costa Rican army, officially recognized as the national hero.

The day is a ‘legal’ holiday in Costa Rica.

Juan Santamaría Day is held every April 11.

The actions of Juan Santamaría, a poor laborer born in the city of Alajuela, who helped defeat the army led by William Walker, an American who had assumed control of Nicaragua and was intent on consolidating his power in the region, in the Battle of Rivas.

Walker’s army was on the run after two battles with the Costa Rican army, when on  April 11 1856, they were confronted with nearly 700 Costa Rican troops in Rivas. A more popular story is that Santamaría volunteered to burn down the “El Mesón de Guerra”, a building, in which Walker’s troops were gathered.

While he was successful in his mission and his actions enabled the Costa Ricans to win the battle, Santamaria was killed in action.

For his sacrifice, he became recognized as a National Hero of Costa Rica.

Juan Santamaría is honored by a statue in a park bearing his name in the park south of the central park of the city of Alajuela.

Visitors to Costa Rica know the name for the country’s main international airport is named after him, the Aeropuerto Internacional Juan Santamaría, more commonly known as the San Jose airport (SJO).

Banks and government offices are closed today. President Carlos Alvarado, members of his cabinet and other VIPs will attend the ceremony in Alajuela this morning.

 


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