Dia de San Martin: A Celebration of San Martin's Life

What is San Martin Day?

August 17th marks the anniversary of the death of General San Martin, and today, August 18th Argentina has a holiday to celebrate his heroic accomplishments throughout his life. As one of the founding fathers of Latin America, José de San Martín was an Argentine soldier, statesman, and national hero. He helped lead the revolutions against Spanish rule in Argentina, Chile and Peru.

Argentina recognizes him as the “Padre de la Patria”, (Father of our Country). Perú remembers the liberator of the country who had titles such as “Fundador de la Libertad del Perú”, (founder of the freedom of Perú), Protector de Perú and “Fundador de la República” y “Generalísimo de las Armas” ( founder of the Republic and supreme commander of weapons). In Chile he was known as 'Captain General'.

Founder of the "Regimiento de Granaderos a Caballo" (Mounted Grenadier Regiment of the Argentine Army), a model combat unit which served as an Academy for Officers, non-commissioned officers and soldiers. From its ranks would emerge a plethora of brilliantly aggressive cavalry commanders the likes of which South America had not seen before or since. Creator of "The Army of the Andes" a force of 4000 men superior in training, discipline, moral and equipment to any hitherto seen in the South American content.

To give you an idea of his brilliant strategies during war, during February 1817, after mastering the formidable Andes, which were 21,000 feet tall, "The Army of the Andes" clashed with the Royalist forces at the field of Chacabuco, defeating them and thus liberating Chile from Spanish domination. San Martín sends an official dispatch to Buenos Aires which stated: "In the space of twenty-four hours they have crossed the highest mountain range in the world; overthrown the tyrants and given liberty to Chile".

In this self-imposed exile he would share his later years with his daughter. At his death in 1850, he left very few material possessions, but a rich heritage of renunciation. He counseled his granddaughters to respect their fellow men as they would respect themselves, and to not focus their minds on material possessions. San Martín was not only the most brilliant of the generals of the Spanish American wars of Independence, he still is an inspiration for citizens, military and common people.  


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