Día de los Niños Héroes
The Day of the Niños Héroes
By Dorothy Bell Photos Bill Bell
Ceiling Mural at Chapultepec Castle
The day is a national holiday and commemorates the heroism and those who gave their lives to save the country during the war against America. It is celebrated in the capital with a parade and a gun ceremony at the Castillo de Chapultepec – remembering the boy heroes. The day is also celebrated throughout Mexico with various civic ceremonies.
The Event – September 13 1847
Six Mexican teenage cadets defended Chapultepec Castle from the invading US forces during the Mexican US War. The cadet college was located at the castle. The cadets were:
Juan de la Barrera (age 19)
Juan Escutia (age 15–19) (?)
Francisco Márquez (age 13)
Agustín Melgar (age 15–19) (?)
Fernando Montes de Oca (age 15–19) (?)
Vicente Suárez (age 14)
The statues of the six Niños Heroes at Chapultepec Castle
A common story that is often recanted is that Cadet Juan Escutia, born in Tepic, Nayarit, realized that the defense of the Castle was useless. He wrapped himself in the Mexican Flag to avoid its capture by the invading US forces and jumped from the castle to his death.
It was a US officer who cried "But if they are just children!" after examining the faces of the dead and thus originated the name "Children Heroes".
The Battle of Chapultepec and the Mexican-American War is also remembered as a bitter page in history where Mexico lost ½ their territory to American expansionism and aggression.
There is a major Memorial in Chapultepec Park (see below) as well as a Mexico City subway stop named after the heroes. Many streets throughout the country commemorate their names or the coined expression "Boy Heroes."
The tall white columns comprise the commemorative complex for the Niños Heroes in Chapultepec Park.