May 21 - Naval Glories Day in Chile

Posted on May 21, 2018

May 21, 1879. Peru vs. Chile. Battling it out navy-style, in the waters of the Pacific Ocean.

This was the Battle of Iquique, part of the War of the Pacific.

Basically, Chile had two old wooden warships, and Peru had two more modern "ironclad" ships that were much, much harder to damage with cannonballs and such.

As you can imagine, Peru won.

But, you say, why would Chile have a holiday on the anniversary of a lost battle?

Arturo Prat
It is because Chile's Commander Arturo Prat was considered so brave and honorable, refusing to surrender, that many young men from Chile joined the navy after he was killed in action.

Also, Peru's battle leader, Rear Admiral Grau, was also honorable. When the Peruvian ironside sank the Chilean ship, Grau ordered boats to be lowered to the water to rescue "enemy" sailors before they drowned. And he returned all of Prat's possessions to the Chileans and Prat's widow, which was a way of honoring the fallen commander. So Chileans use the holiday as a way of honoring brave and honorable people on all sides of military actions.
Miguel Grau

Finally, even though Chile lost that particular battle, the sudden enthusiasm in and enlistments by other Chileans led to victory in the war. 

Folks in Chile could use the day to celebrate the natural beauties of their Pacific Coast:

Also on this date:

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