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The man behind the mountain

He was called the "Hero of Two Worlds", in tribute to his military adventures in both South America and Europe, and his name became famous around the world.

He was called the "Hero of Two Worlds", in tribute to his military adventures in both South America and Europe, and his name became famous around the world.

In Squamish, the name Garibaldi is recognized by nearly every resident, not for the past heroic exploits of a legendary historic figure, but because of a stunning volcanic peak named in honour of a great man.

Giuseppe Garibaldi's popularity, his skill at rousing the masses, and his military exploits are all credited with making the unification of Italy possible. Born to humble parents in Nice, France (then known as Nizza, Sardinia) in 1807, Garibaldi rose to iconic status in Europe and South America. Throughout the two continents, Garibaldi was known as a hero of the people, who fought to create an independent, united Italy.

He also led military campaigns in Latin America and earned the respect of uncountable number of citizens who chose to stand up and revolt against unwanted governments.

As a youth he fled from home to escape a clerical education, but afterwards joined his father in the coasting trade. After joining the Giovine Italia he entered the Sardinian navy, and, with a number of companions on board the frigate Euridice, plotted to seize the vessel and occupy the arsenal of Genoa at the moment when the Mazzinis Savoy expedition should enter Piedmont.

The revolt failed, and Garibaldi was forced into exile after being condemned to death by default on June 3, 1834. He went to South America, where he aided the Brazilian province of Rio Grande do Sul in a revolt against the Brazilian government.

Later, Garibaldi fought for Uruguay against Argentina. During this campaign, he formed the Italian Legion, a group of volunteer troops who wore red shirts. In 1848, Garibaldi led this group, which was nicknamed the red shirts, to Italy to fight against the country's Austrian rulers. In 1849, Garibaldi's forces defended a republic formed by the Italian patriot Giuseppe Mazzini at Rome. But French and Austrian troops defeated the Italians. Exiled from Italy, Garibaldi went to the United States. He was allowed to return to Italy in 1854.

During the 1860s, Garibaldi fought to bring Rome into the kingdom by ending the pope's rule there. But Garibaldi's efforts failed. In 1866, Garibaldi helped Italy gain the city of Venice from Austria. During the 1860s and 1870s, he was repeatedly elected to the Italian Parliament. However, he seldom took his seat.

On June 2, 1882 his death at Caprera plunged Italy into mourning.

Exactly one hundred years later, on June 2, 1982, Squamish honoured the legendary Italian patriot with a ceremony at Watts Point. A plaque, commemorating the anniversary of the "Hero of Two Worlds", was presented to representatives from Squamish council, on behalf of members from the Italian community of Vancouver.

At the ceremony, Italian consul general Dr. Giuseppe Gaudiello told the crowd of some of the accomplishments of Garibaldi.

"He was famous, particularly in the Anglo-Saxon countries and in North America, not only for his military skills but for his human qualities so that Italians from all walks of life could identify themselves with him, regardless of their political beliefs."

This year, organizers have been busy finalizing details for a new celebration to honour the Italian hero.

On Sunday, July 4, Squamish citizens are invited to the first annual Garibaldi Day. To celebrate the birthday of Giuseppe Garibaldi, Italian officials from Squamish's sister city, Catalefemi, Italy have been invited and will be introduced to the spectacular peak named after the famed hero. On Saturday (July 3) at 7:30 p.m., the District of Squamish will host a special public presentation at the Squamish Public Library of historic artifacts pertaining to Giuseppe Garibaldi's life, which are being brought over from Italy just for this occasion. There will also be a special screening of a comedic Italian short film and a brief talk about Garibaldi's life accomplishments.

Sunday's events (July 4) include a formal re-dedication of the Garibaldi Monument at Watts Point at noon.

After the official ceremony, all are invited to Stan Clarke Park to enjoy am Italian-themed community picnic, wine-tasting and espresso demonstration.

For more information, contact event organizers Jan Durocher at 604-898-5642 or Murray Sovereign at 604-815-9025.

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