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Galvez Celebration Culminates With Fort George Ceremony

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

Dignitaries from both Pensacola and Pensacola’s Spanish sister city gathered at Fort George Saturday, to wrap up a week of tributes to Spanish General Bernardo de. Galvez.

The 35-minute ceremony was much more subdued than in recent years, when reenactors in period uniforms paraded up Palafox Street to the fort, firing their muskets along the way.

John LeRoy, Vice President of the Pensacola Archaeological Society, hosted the event and gave a bit of history about Galvez getting some little-known help during the Battle of Pensacola in 1781.

“Galvez asked the French – at that time internationally-known as the best artillerists in the world – to come up and set up a mortar and start firing on the Queen’s Redoubt,” said LeRoy. “The first shot blew up the powder magazine. At least, that’s the rumor and I like to believe that rumor.”

Also on hand was the Florida representative for the Daughters of the American Revolution, Jenny Poffenberger.

“With the recent uncovering of the [Tristan de] Luna colony, there’s national interest in the Spain-Pensacola connection,” said Poffenberger. “This is the perfect time to remind everyone about General Bernardo de Galvez, his honorary American citizenship, and the Spanish influence in Pensacola.

Credit Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media
Gabrielle Goins reads from her award-winning essay on Galvez.

Each year, there’s a contest to see which fourth-grader can write the best 500-word essay on Bernardo de Galvez. Gabrielle Goins of Sacred Heart Cathedral School took the title and the monetary prize that comes with it.

“Galvez will be remembered as a great hero, to release west Florida from British control,” Goins read from her essay. “Galvez left a remarkable example for all us Pensacolians and citizens of West Florida.”

Next up, the leader of this year’s Spanish delegation, Antonio Campos – the Mayor of sister city Macharaviaya.

“I can’t help but be emotional when I think about the child Galvez walking around the streets of Macharaviaya,” Campos said through a translator. “And to think that he went so far and did so many things for the United States and for Spain.”

Providing the benediction of sorts was Maria Davis of Pensacola, an honorary Spanish vice consul. Her remarks were in both Español y Ingles.

“Thank you so much, especially our Spanish friends,” Davis said. “Thank you Pensacola for helping us in this wonderful mission.”

Concluding the ceremony was a wreath-laying at the statue of Galvez overlooking Palafox Street, and a 21-gun salute.

Plans already are in the works to expand the annual salute to Bernardo de Galvez. Next year’s program includes the unveiling of a monument at the corner of Palafox and Wright Streets – sponsored by the Pensacola Heritage Foundation