Syrian Independence Day, celebrated on April 17, 1946, marked the end of the French Mandate in Syria and the country's liberation from colonial rule after twenty-five years of resistance.
This was a momentous occasion in the history of Syria and was the result of numerous protests, diplomatic efforts, civil agitation and uprisings, including the Franco-Syrian war and the Great Syrian Revolution.
Although Syrian independence from France was technically proclaimed in 1941 and was recognized as an independent republic in 1944, Evacuation Day (عيد الجلاء) on April 17 commemorates the official evacuation of the last French and British troops from Syria, marking Syria's real independence from France.
The Syrian people celebrated with public celebrations throughout the nation - from the Syrian coast to Deir ez-Zor, as seen in this famous photo featured in the December 1946 edition of National Geographic.
As noted in the caption, the “Independence bonfire” featured burning French books as a symbolic gesture of freedom which included this humorous acknowledgement from a young Syrian that, “We know book burning is barbaric…but it gives us an emotional outlet."
The photo also shows the large crowd hoisting three flags - Syria's Independence flag, Lebanon's flag, and the flag of the Arab Kingdom of Syria, which was ended by the French Mandate.
The occasion was widely covered by the world's media wires and press, highlighting its global significance.
Do you know of other great examples of the original independence day celebration? Let me know!