Last Thursday, 12 October, Spain’s National Holiday was Spain celebrated, a festival that took place across the whole of the Spanish territory. Also known as Hispanic Day, it is one of the eight non-replaceable national holidays written in stone in the annual calendar, commemorating the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus on October 12, 1492.
Although parades and celebrations are held across the country, the largest parade is held in Madrid, where the King and Queen of Spain preside over the ceremony and where military units, traditional dancers, and floats from different regions are showcased.
But despite all that goes on, one of the most characteristic images of Madrid’s National Holiday Day Parade is the arrival of the Spanish flag by parachute, which this year was delivered from the air by Corporal María del Carmen Gómez Hurtado, 38 years of age, the winner of the recent International Military Parachuting Championship held in San Javier.
With more than 3,000 jumps, the Elche born paratrooper is one of the few women who has earned the Green Beret of the Parachute Sapper Squadron (EZAPAC) of the Special Operations Unit of the Air and Space Army.
In June, she also became the first parachutist to jump with the Spanish flag on Armed Forces Day, held this year in Granada.
Her jump also coincided with the first Columbus Day parade in which Princess Leonor attended after her swearing in of the flag, held last week.
Following a number of military displays, the national anthem and a tribute to those who gave their lives for Spain, their Majesties and Princess of Leonor travelled to the Royal Palace where the traditional commemorative reception for the National Holiday Day took place and it was there that the mystery deepened about Princess Leonor’s mysterious friend, a young man who was greeted with laughter by the king and queen, suggesting that there could be something more than a friendship with the Princess of Asturias.
It took no time at all for the national press to run the photograph of the moment in which a young cadet greeted the monarchs and their daughter, received with laughter and knowing gestures, which has generated speculation about whether there could be something more than a simple friendship between the two young people.
As well as Madrid of course there were celebrations locally in Orihuela and in Torrevieja where the respective mayors had the honour of raising the Spanish flag.
In Orihuela almost as a custom, the event was used as a platform for demands with topics such as water, teaching Valencian and recovering the historic city centre. In his speech the mayor was particularly critical of the imposition of the Valencian language, stating, “let us defend ourselves fiercely against the impositions of those who, incomprehensibly, seek confrontation between brothers using such an intimate part of our cultural heritage to sow discord.”
In Torrevieja it was the Civil Guard that led the celebrations at the event, which was also the day of its patron saint.
It was a day that was full of emotion for the civil guards and their families with the celebrations getting underway with a mass in the Archpriest Church of the Inmaculada in honour of the patron saint, the Virgen del Pilar, with the presence of senior officers along with representatives of the council and the courts.
The main flag raising event, carried out by Mayor Eduardo Dolon, took place on Paseo Vistalegre.