GET TO KNOW BERNARDO DE GÁLVEZ By Guillermo Fesser
Until very recently, I had no idea how big of an impact Spanish language and culture had on the creation of the United States. For that reason, when I first heard about Bernardo de Gálvez and his role as Governor of Louisiana during the Revolutionary War, I was very surprised. With arched eyebrows and wide eyes I began researching this historic figure, uncovering many hidden stories along the way. Ever since then I have dedicated my time and effort into unearthing the forgotten heritage of the hispanic community here in the United States.
I search the web, read books, talk to historians and reach out to family and friends from all around the country. That way, little by little, I discover a few things about this country's Hispanic roots. As an example, I have come to learn that the oldest city in the US is called San Agustin. I have also learned that the oldest synagogue in the country was founded by a man named Luis Gomez. Similarly, it has come to my attention that the famous wild horses that inhabit the beaches of Maryland and Virginia come from an old sunken Spanish galleon. Another fun fact is that the people of New Orleans celebrate the Three Kings on January 6th with some classical Spanish pastries. I have also discovered that Spanish people were the first Europeans to discover the Grand Canyon and the first to step foot on Alaska. It is also worth noting that jazz would never have begun had Spanish wind instruments not been introduced into the southern United States.
The presence of Hispanic culture in the United States is not new. It is also certainly not restricted to what we see on TV; people fleeing their countries in search of a better and more prosperous future. Although some of that is certainly true, the Spanish and Hispanic influence on this country goes back for centuries. In the time of George Washington, who by the way loved to drink Spanish wine, over two thirds of the territory that now makes up the United States spoke Spanish. Cowboys were also referred to as vaqueros and trained their horses in the traditional ways of southern Spain. Many of these stories have been forgotten through time and that is why I decided to write "Get to Know Bernardo de Galvez". I am touring the nation's schools and sharing this story so that the children of this country can learn about and celebrate their own history. Children of Latino and Hispanic backgrounds should feel proud of their heritage and deserve to know that they belong in this country just as much as their peers. It is also important for children of Anglican backgrounds to learn to treat their Latino peers with dignity and respect, as well as to learn about their own Hispanic roots.
The character that has given me the opportunity to start this adventure is Bernardo de Gálvez, born on July 23, 1746 in Macharaviaya, a small town in the province of Málaga. As in the eighteenth century Europe was involved in wars, when Bernardo grew up he chose the career that had the most prospects and became a soldier. Soon he would stand out for his bravery in the army and King Carlos the III appointed him captain and sent him to patrol the Spanish dominions of North America. The seventh cavalry regiment, but in Spanish version. Order that Gálvez executed, naturally, on horseback, with leather vest and wide-brimmed hat. Oh, and riding with his soldiers from "presidio" to "presidio". Those were not just jails, huh? The "presidios" were the fortified posts and they were called that because they "presided" the roads or the villas. That is, they were at the entrance.
Then, to make a long story short, when he was promoted to governor of Louisiana, he sided with the American patriots. From New Orleans, he sent them boats loaded with uniforms, ammunition, food, blankets and medicines up the Mississippi river. He defeated the British with his troops in three battles (Baton Rouge, Natchez and Mobile) and, with a historic feat that earned him the slogan "Yo solo", reconquered Florida.
So much did Washington appreciate his invaluable help that, on the day of Washington's first presidential inauguration, Bernardo's legendary ship, the Galveztown, was given the task of shooting the thirteen salutes of honor into the air, to commemorate the thirteen colonies and their victories over the British. The canon blasts resonated all throughout New York City, where the ship was anchored for the ceremony. If you listen hard enough you can sometimes still hear the echoes of those blasts: "boom, boom, boom!"
International Latino Book Awards 2017
Best non-fiction illustrated book for children
Second place: "Get to know Bernardo de Gálvez"
Author: Guillermo Fesser.
Illustrator: Alejandro Villén.
Santillana USA Publishing Company; Spain; NY