Several hundred Dominicans gathered at the Colin Powell Elementary School in Union City on Friday night, as the municipality celebrated the 179th anniversary of the Dominican Republic’s independence. The evening featured dinner, served by members of the Union City High School Junior ROTC, as well as special recognition given to four, prominent, Union City Dominicans.
The Union City Board of Commissioners presented two, New Jersey Senate Citations to residents Dominga Peralta and Gisella Cuello from Mayor and State Senator Brian Stack, who was unable to attend the celebration due to an illness. Peralta was recognized for her work as a member of INDEX, the Dominican Institute of the Exterior., while Cuello, a youthful 88 years of age, was honored for being a respected member of the city. For years she has been selling water to people along Bergenline Avenue.
Two Union City Proclamations were also presented by the Board. The first went to retiring, U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Caonabo Reyes. Caonabo received many awards during his long, military career. He also worked for the Union City Board of Education for 24 years, heading up the Junior ROTC Program, graduating thousands of students from the military program. Meanwhile, Ysabel Fabre De Moral, a poet and security guard for years at the Union City Board of Education, was also recognized with a City Proclamation.
The evening also featured some dancing and plenty of music, good conversation and fond memories of the attendees’ days at their Caribbean homeland.
Following both French and Spanish rule from as early as the 16th century, the island nation of the Dominican Republic declared itself an independent nation from neighboring Haiti in 1844.
The Dominican War of Independence made the Dominican Republic a sovereign state on February 27, 1844. Before the war, the island of Hispaniola had been united for 22 years when the newly independent nation, previously known as the Captaincy General of Santo Domingo, was unified with the Republic of Haiti in 1822.
In 1861, the Dominican Republic reverted to Spanish rule, again winning its independence in 1865.