March 23, 1980

On March 23, in town plazas across the nation, over 50,000 high school and university students displayed their crusade uniforms: blue jeans, gray peasant shirts, rubber rain boots, and knapsacks of every color and hue—fuchsia pink, gold, green, purple, and blue. Standing with their classmates and teachers they pledged, as did the almost 30,000 urban recruits, to carry out their responsibilities as literacy volunteers with honor and respect. In Managua, rousing speeches were given by Carlos Tunnerman, Fernando Cardenal, Sergio Ramirez, and Bayardo Arce. People cheered, flags waved, bands played, mothers cried, and the students—shouting and laughing with excitement—scrambled for transportation. Some climbed into buses or trucks; others boarded boats or trains. The roads were clogged for three days. As the caravans of volunteers passed through towns and villages, people waved and offered up bananas and oranges and words of encouragement.