MEXICO CITY -- President Felipe Calderon presided over a spectacular patriotic cermony at Mexico's central military college to kick off festivities celebrating Independence Day, which is Sunday.
The "Thoughts on the Homeland" ceremony at the Heroic Military College in southern Mexico City lasted nearly 2 1/2 hours and featured dazzling displays of military might. For nearly six years the armed forces have played central role in the government's fight against drug-trafficking and organized crime.
Here are photos from Thursday's event. And here is a full video.
Hundreds of military personnel and cadets participated -- without the direction or guidance of pageant professionals, an announcer said. The participants used colored placards to create detailed, large-scale collages from elevated stands in a performance that depicted key moments in Mexico's history.
The nationalistic display reached as far back as the legends of the founding of the Aztec Empire, with soldiers dressed as Aztec warriors upon moving pyramids.
Calderon's Cabinet ministers attended as well as delegations from a variety of the country's allies: Germany, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, the United States, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Italy, Nicaragua and Uruguay.
The president will give the final traditional "grito," or shout, of his term on Saturday night from the National Palace on Mexico City's Zocalo central square. The formal Independence Day parade occurs in the center of the city on Sunday.
-- Daniel Hernandez
Photo credits: Mario Guzman / EPA, photos 1 to 5; Dario Lopez-Mills / Associated Press, 6 to 12.