May 18, 2012 - Flag and Universities Day in Haiti

The story goes that, after successfully winning its independence from France, the new nation of Haiti adopted its first purely-Haitian flag on this date in 1803. 

Supposedly, the revolutionary leader Jean-Jacques Dessalines took a French flag, ripped the white stripe out, and asked his god-daughter to sew together the blue and red stripes. Whether or not the story is true, Dessalines's god-daughter, Catherine Flon, has appeared on Haitian postage stamps and money, and her sewing project is honored with a national holiday!

The current flag of Haiti is still blue atop red, but there is a white rectangle in the middle on which is sewn weapons and a palm tree, with the motto “L 'Union Fait La Force.” Try to figure out what this French motto means before you get to the answer at the bottom of the article.

Most of us think “earth-quake” first, when we hear the name Haiti, because of the devas-tating 7.0 earthquake that flattened the nation's capital in 2010. But Haiti is also known for beautiful beaches and waterfalls. Check out these photos.

Haiti is unique in the world because it was the first black-led republic in the world, and it is the only nation that was founded by slaves who revolted successfully against their masters. (There have been some other successful slave revolts, but they did not result in a new nation.) Finally, Haiti is the only fully independent nation in the Americas whose primary language is French (Canada has two official languages, including French, but French is the minority language everywhere but Quebec.)

Translation of motto: “Unity Makes Strength”

Also on this date:

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