The city of St. Augustine will be celebrating its 450th anniversary on September 8, 2015. The St. Augustine Commemoration Commission was established by the passing of legislation crafted by Sen. Mel Martinez and introduced by Sen. Bill Nelson in March 2009 as part of the Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009. The commission is responsible for organizing state and local activities to commemorate the 450th anniversary of St. Augustine, the oldest European-established city in the United States of America.
By celebrating St. Augustine’s 450th anniversary, we are honoring our cultural heritage and history. Planning for this national historic event will require a collaborative effort and the commission will bring together local, state, and federal officials, along with noted historians. This commission will work to properly organize a fitting recognition of our nation’s oldest city. – Sen. Martinez
On July 18, 2011 the Commission held its inaugural meeting in St. Augustine to begin the planning. The Keynote speaker was Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar who noted,
The story of St. Augustine is an integral part of the story of America, and the 450th anniversary of the city’s founding is an opportunity to commemorate the diversity of our past and the long journey to become the nation we are today. The Department of the Interior will work closely with the commission to ensure an appropriate commemoration that celebrates the city and honors its history.
The City of St. Augustine has established a website for following the developments of the planning and events that will begin in 2012 and culminate in 2015 with the 450th celebration. Beach to River will be following the events and news closely as well. This is an exciting time to be proud residents of St. Augustine, Florida – the nation’s oldest city!
The St Augustine Commemoration Commission’s duties, as defined in its charter
- Plan, develop, and carry out programs and activities appropriate for the commemoration;
- Facilitate activities relating to the commemoration throughout the United States;
- Encourage civic, patriotic, historical, educational, artistic, religious, economic, and other organizations throughout the United States to organize and participate in anniversary activities to expand understanding and appreciation of the significance of the founding and continuing history of St. Augustine;
- Provide technical assistance to States, localities, and nonprofit organizations to further the commemoration;
- Coordinate and facilitate for the public scholarly research on, publication about, and interpretation of, St. Augustine;
- Ensure that the commemoration provides a lasting legacy and long-term public benefit by assisting in the development of appropriate programs; and
- Help ensure that the observances of the foundation of St. Augustine are inclusive and appropriately recognize the experiences and heritage of all individuals present when St. Augustine was founded. *emphasis added
St. Augustine’s 450th Commemoration is planned as a four-year remembrance
- 2012 ~ 200th Anniversary of the Spanish Constitution
- 2013 ~ 500th anniversary of the landing of Juan Ponce de Leon, the discoverer of Florida and mainland America
- 2014 ~ 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act
- 2015 ~ 450th anniversary of the founding of St. Augustine by Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles in 1565 as the oldest, continuously occupied European settlement in the continental United States
The Mission of the Commemoration Commisssion:
The St. Augustine 450th Commemoration strives to:
- Share with the nation and the world the important role St. Augustine played in the making of America.
- Tell the story of St. Augustine’s 450 years of rich multicultural history and an enduring people.
- Create engaging programs that will draw national and international visitors to St. Augustine and St. Johns County.