September 16, 1810 is Mexico's Independence Day. But surprisingly, this is not the day that freedom was achieved. Instead, it's the day that the spark of hope was ignited for freedom from Spain.
Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla is widely known as being the Father of Mexican Independence Day. He was born to Spanish parents on a hacienda in Guanajuato and served as a priest in the village of Dolores.
Here he worked to help the people improve their economic status by working the land and also taught them to read and write.
Father Hidalgo's fiery and liberal ideas led him to become a minor figure in the central Mexican "Committee of Correspondence," along with Ignacio Allende and Juan Aldama who were both officers in the army.
This was a group that was secretly working on gaining independence from Spain.
The group planned an insurrection for December but when it was promptly discovered they decided to go forward with their plans prematurely.
On September 16, 1810 Father Hidalgo rang his church bells to gather his congregants and made history in the early morning when he delivered his famous speech called Grito de Dolores (Cry from Dolores), where he called to action his Indian and mestizo parishioners.
It is this speech that made him the leader of the movement for Mexican independence. In his speech he attacked the confiscation of Indian land by conquistadores, slavery, and other injustices.
He empowered the people to fight for their freedom and gave them hope.
He soon gathered a large and untrained flock of people consisting of the poor and oppressed wielding picks, shovels, pitchforks and any other tools they could find.
They carried banners with images of the Virgin Mary to guide them. The crowd soon swelled to large numbers of over 80,000 but sadly, they were eventually defeated by the well trained and disciplined Spanish army.
On March 1811, Hidalgo and Allende were both captured and executed.
It is his actions on the day of September 16, 1810 and those that worked with him that inspired the people to fight for freedom against injustice that is remembered and celebrated to this day.
On September 21, 1821, Mexico finally achieved it's independence from Spain. Father Miguel Hidalgo's brave cry for independence will be remembered in history forever, "Mexicanos, ¡Viva México!"