Every Sunday in every major Peruvian city you can see Peruvian patriotism on display when the nation’s flag is raised and the people proudly sing their national anthem, the “Himno Nacional del Peru.” This ceremony is followed by a parade made up of different groups from each area that varies each week.
This morning I headed down to the Plaza de Armas hoping the rain would hold off (it did) and maybe shoot a few decent photos. I went a couple of weeks ago and shot a little video, but wanted to return with hoping to capture a little of what makes these ceremonies special to Peruvians across the country.
I’ve watched the ceremony in Iquitos a few times over the years. Each city has its own version and each week is different, but the one thing that really has stuck with me is the seriousness with which the participants take the ceremony and the enormous pride on display by everyone involved.
The event is held in front of the city’s majestic cathedral. The crowds begin to gather more than an hour before with soldiers holding both the national flag and the flag of Cusco beneath the towering flagpoles in the Plaza de Armas.
Promptly at 10 a.m. a military band leads in the week’s dignitaries who will participate in the raising of the flags. Once they move to their seats of honor in front of the cathedral, the flag raising begins with the flag of Cusco being raised followed by the Peruvian flag.
One at a time, the huge flags are slowly lifted to the sky with about 5-6 people pulling a few tugs each to raise them high. The ceremony concludes with the singing of the country’s beautiful “Himno Nacional del Peru.” It’s a stirring moment when the voices of all the Peruanos in attendance lift above even the playing of the band in the final stanza.
After the singing of the national anthem, the soldiers march off and the parade begins. As I said before, each week’s parade is different, but today’s parade had special meaning to me. After teaching being a special education teacher for over 10 years of my career in education, it was especially heartwarming to see today’s parade being led by several groups of people with disabilities.
The very first group was led by two smiling boys with Down Syndrome carrying the banner of their school followed by another organization of blind adults. The joy on the faces of so many who were participating was especially wonderful. Despite the challenges that these people face in the lives every day, they were being honored as they marched down the street in front of the cheering crowd and their appreciate was apparent.
Next came several schools of both primary aged kids and high school students. I always enjoy watching the little ones. Though they’ve been practicing for their part in the parade, it never goes quite as planned. Some are nervous and others seem to be having a great time marching in front of the the family and friends who come out to see them.
If you are ever in a large Peruvian city on a Sunday morning, go down to the Plaza de Armas and watch the festivities. It’s a small snapshot of Peruvian life that gives you a bit of an idea of the complexity of what life is like in this wonderful country. The pageantry is beautiful as you watch patriotism of the people on display.
Seeing all the wonderful historical sights and spectacular scenery that Peru has to offer is an important part of any trip here, but watching the Sunday morning ceremony and parade lets you be a part of what makes life special for Peruvians.