Each year at 11 p.m. on September 15, residents of Mexico’s villages, towns and cities gather in the squares and plazas to reenact Father Miguel Hidalgo’s grito, the impassioned cry to arms, that launched the 1810 war of independence. The new world insurgents fought fiercely for nearly a decade before Spain released Mexico from the grip of exploitation and oppression that had held the country for ten generations.
These annual remembrances of that original declaration of freedom are accompanied by the ringing of bells and cries of patriotism and the joyful memory of overcoming the adversity and terror of foreign invasion.
Each grito I’ve attended has been special, and each has impressed upon me the intensity of emotion and national devotion exhibited by the large, enthusiastic crowds, but I’ll never forget the Chapala grito on September 15, 2001.
The four days since the terrorists attacts of September 11, 2001 seemed endless. Even here at Lake Chapala, events in the United States seemed too huge to grasp and assimilate and the days and hours were endless. Like everyone in North America, U.S. citizens living at Lake Chapala were shaken and grief-stricken; it seemed impossible to return to the normal routines of daily life.