Originally sewn on May 18, 1803 by Catherine Flon with guidance from her godfather, Haitian revolutionary leader Jean-Jacques Dessalines, the Haitian flag is a source of pride for Haitians worldwide and its annual commemoration on May 18th is one of our most revered traditions. Consequently, on the evening of May 18, 2018, the Embassy of Haiti in Washington, DC hosted a celebration to commemorate the 215th anniversary of the Haitian flag.
The event brought together over 200 guests, Haitians and non-Haitians alike, who gathered at the Chancery to celebrate 215 years of the Haitian flag. Haitian Congressman Jerry Tardieu, who represents the commune of Pétionville in the Haitian Parliament, was one of many distinguished guests. The evening began with a rousing performance of both French and Haitian Creole versions of Haiti’s National Anthem, La Dessalinienne, led by singer Rachelle Volcy, a native of the city of Arcahaie where Catherine Flon sewed the first Haitian flag. With the lyrics to both versions of La Dessalinienne provided to the public on two screens, many attendees joined their voices with Volcy’s in singing the National Anthem with pride.
Thereafter, the Embassy’s Director of Culture and Education, Dave Fils-Aimé, provided the guests with a presentation on the history of the Haitian Flag spanning from the colonial period to the present day. Through the presentation, many of the guests learned for the first time about the different versions of the Haitian Flag that have existed from 1803 to 1986.
Following the presentation, a series of musical performances ensued. Jean-Pierre Leroy, an artist and Voice of America journalist, delighted the crowd with a solo flute performance. Immediately after, jazz vocalist Loide Rosa Jorge enchanted the guests with her entrancing rendition of the traditional Haitian folk song “Latibonit.” The celebration came full circle with the final musical performance delivered by Rachelle Volcy: a potpourri of traditional Haitian songs that included timeless favorites “Ayiti Cheri,” “Panama m tonbe,” and “Papa Gede (Bèl Gason).”
For the remainder of the evening, DJ Vybz entertained the crowd with a mix featuring some of the most popular Haitian songs from the past three decades. As the event came to an end, the celebration of the 215th anniversary of the Haitian flag proved to be a fun, educational experience for the many guests in attendance.