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Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Celebrating Cinco de Mayo...and Its Connection to the United States
This Wednesday marks the celebration known as Cinco de Mayo, or "May 5th", in Spanish. Although many people have heard of this holiday - and even join in the celebrations with gusto - plenty of folks are not aware of what this holiday is all about. And most people don't realize that the event being commemorated may have actually played an important role in shaping the United States that we know today.
Let's take a look at what this holiday is about, and have even more reason to celebrate Cinco de Mayo - as well as liberty and freedom - this Wednesday, May 5th.
What Does Cinco de Mayo Commemorate?
Many people believe that Cinco de Mayo is the day that recognizes Mexico's independence from Spain. To set the record straight, that conquest happened on September 15th, 1810. Cinco de Mayo, on the other hand, celebrates an event that took place over 50 years later.
On May 5, 1862, the Mexican cavalry, under the command of Texas-born General Zaragosa, defeated the French at the battle at Puebla, a city 100 miles east of Mexico City.
The French army, having not suffered a defeat in nearly 50 years, landed in the port of Vera Cruz and headed toward the capital city with a specific mission. Fearless of any opponent, the French sought to overthrow the capitol and gain control of Mexico, even bringing along a Hapsburg prince to oversee the would-be empire.
So...What's the Connection to the United States?
The goal of France's leader, Emperor Napoleon III, was to gain proximity to the US, in hopes of supplying the Confederate Army with support in their fight against the North...as he desired to sustain the division within America.
To America's benefit, the undersized Mexican cavalry used their knowledge of the terrain to defeat the powerful French army. This victory enabled the Northern States to continue to build the greatest army in the world at that time. Fourteen months later, the North soundly defeated the Confederate Army in the battle at Gettysburg, thus ending the Civil War. Union troops were subsequently rushed to the Texas/Mexican border to help expel the French from Mexico.
Cinco de Mayo is rightfully celebrated in both the US and Mexico - and it's a great occasion to honor freedom and liberty.Image by debaird™ via Flickr