Haitians around the world and in South Florida are proudly waving their country’s flag Friday in honor of Haitian Flag Day.
The day, celebrated on May 18, pays ode to the revolution in which the country gained its independence from France in 1803. The middle white stripe of the French flag was removed and the blue and red stripes were stitched together to form Haiti’s flag.
Eveline Pierre, the executive director and founder of the Haitian Heritage Museum in North Miami, says “Haitian Flag Day is important because it shows a unity of the culture of the people and it shows the pride of what we did 200-plus years ago defeating our oppressors, which was France at the time.”
The red on the flag represents the native Indians and the blue represents the African slaves, Pierre said. “It’s the coming together of two people.”
People all over North Miami are doing their part to show their Haitian pride. Haitian-American Joseph Claude stopped by the little shop where Michelle Fleur was selling Haitian flags and shirts.
“It’s important for us because Haiti came a long way especially from the earthquake and all the trials and tribulations we been through since 1804 and we gotta represent and hold our country strong because if we don’t, no one else will," Claude said.
He bought a couple of flags and a chain. When asked what he was going to do with his purchases Claude said, “I’m gunna put my flags on my car, ride around the city and party for Haiti!”
Flag Day took on even more prominence after the January 2010 earthquake that devastated the country. An estimated 300,000 people were killed in the 7.0 magnitude earthquake, which struck near the capital of Port-au-Prince. Hundreds of thousands more were injured or left homeless.
To commemorate Flag Day and remember those lost in the quake, the Forest Lawn Funeral Home in Pompano Beach will host a ceremony on Saturday at a garden dedicated to the Haitian community.
“We do service a lot of the Haitian community,” said Lauren Pechacek, the general manager at the funeral home. She said the garden opened in 2010 "due to response from the Haitian community wanting to lay their loved ones to rest."
Starting at 4 p.m. prominent ministers from Haitian churches will come to speak at the ceremony and a new bronze memorial will be unveiled, Pechacek said.
This is the first time the funeral home will host a Flag Day celebration but Pechacek said they have held a memorial every January to remember the victims of the quake.
Meantime, more than 30,000 people are expected to attend the 14th annual Haitian Compas Festival at Bayfront Park in downtown Miami on Saturday.
To read more about the Haitian community in South Florida, click here.