To celebrate the 200th anniversary of Latin Americas wars of
independence, the Princeton University Library is exhibiting medals
and orders that were awarded to soldiers and civilians in the form of
"From a Thankful Nation" opened Feb. 25 in the main
exhibition gallery of Firestone Library on the Princeton campus, and
continues through Aug. 3.
The exhibition features hundreds of Latin American decorations, with
examples from a wide range of styles. One, a plain silver medal, was
awarded to an officer of the Buenos Aires armed forces that freed
Montevideo from Spanish colonial rule in 1814. Another is Guatemalas
highest award given to foreign presidents, the Collar of the Order of
the Quetzal, with Mayan motifs. A third piece is a gilt example of the
Cuban Order of Che Guevara, awarded for assistance to Latin Americas
many left-wing movements of national liberation.
According to the university, "Unlike the United States, which
has generally avoided the award and wearing of medals as a vestige of
European royal practice, the Spanish-, Portuguese-, and
French-speaking nations of the New World have embraced such displays
as tangible expressions of appreciation for the efforts of their
soldiers and citizens."
Miguel Angel Centeno, professor of Sociology and International
Affairs and chair of Princetons Department of Sociology, writes in an
introduction to the exhibition catalog, "These medals and orders
allow us a unique perspective on the development of Latin American
states and the qualities they have chosen to represent and reward."
Centeno is scheduled to lecture on the ideals exemplified by the
pieces in the exhibit on April 13 at 3 p.m., which is to be preceded
by a curatorial tour of the exhibition at 1:30 p.m. and followed by a
reception. An additional curatorial tour is slated for May 29, at 3 p.m.
The exhibition is also documented in a fully illustrated website: http://rbsc.princeton.edu/thankful-nation/.
"From a Thankful Nation" is open to the public without
charge on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on weekends from noon to
For more information, telephone Stahl at 609-258-9127 or email him