Haiti Flag and University Day

Haiti Flag and University Day

May 18
An inscription on the Haitian flag's coat of arms reads: "L'Union fait la force" (Unity Makes Strong). National unity is a primary theme of Flag and University Day, which is an independence celebration as well as an occasion to recognize the country's educational system.
For over a century, the celebration was devoted solely to the national emblem. Flag Day became an annual celebration shortly after Catherine Flon sewed the first red and blue flag in 1803, a year before Haiti won its independence from France. Under instructions from Jean-Jacques Dessalines, Haiti's first ruler, Flon used the template of the French flag's tri-color scheme but removed the white stripe. The remaining blue and red stripes symbolized the black and mulatto citizens who made up Haiti's majority population.
The government incorporated University Day as part of the celebration in 1919. Dantes Bellegarde, then minister of public instruction, advocated for the day because he believed that the sanctity of the educational system was being threatened by the U.S. occupation of Haiti that had begun in 1915.
Haitians wave flags throughout the day's parades and fairs, which take place throughout Haiti as well as in New York and Miami, two cities with large Haitian communities. People also attend presentations by experts on the country's flag and Haitian history.
CONTACTS:
Embassy of the Republic of Haiti
2311 Massachusetts Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
202-332-4090; fax: 202-745-7215
www.haiti.org