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Today is Cinco de Mayo. Many people think Cinco de Mayo is actually Mexican Independence Day, but that is a common misconception. Mexico declared its independence from Spain at midnight on September 15, 1810. Cinco de Mayo is actually a celebration of the day in which all Mexican restaurants threw down the shackles of high drink prices imposed by the French under the rule of Hapsburg prince Maximillian and his wife Carlotta.
After Mexico kicked the Spanish out of their country, the French came with the intent of collecting Mexican debts from newly elected President Benito Juarez. Napoleon III hated the United States, and saw this as an opportunity to come to the new world and impose his dominance. The French had the finest in modern weaponry and a newly reconstituted French Legion. If that wasn’t enough to embolden an army that had not lost in fifty years, the United States was in the midst of its own Civil War.
The French attacked Mexico City from the west because they thought the Mexicans would give up should their capital fall to the enemy as was the rule with most European countries. Under the command of Texas-born General Zaragosa (with the calvary under the command of Colonel Porfirio Diaz, who would later become Mexico’s president and dictator), the Mexicans planned their attack.
The General ordered the Colonel to take his calvary (the best in the world) out to the French flanks. The French responded by sending their calvary off to chase Diaz. As a result, the French were butchered. The remaining French infantrymen charged the Mexicans through sloppy mud and hundreds of head of stampeding cattle that were stirred up by Indians armed only with machetes.
In the end, a greatly outnumbered army defeated the world’s greatest army and prevented the French from supplying the Confederate Army. The Union Army would have the time to build itself as the world’s greatest and crush the South at Gettysburg just fourteen months after the battle of Puebla, essentially ending the Civil War.
The Union Army then sent General Phil Sheridan to the Texas / Mexico border to supply the Mexican Army with all of the weapons and ammunition required to expel the French for good. Those Americans who joined the Mexican Army to fight were known as the American Legion of Honor and marched in the Victory Parade in Mexico City.
In gratitude, thousands of Mexicans crossed the border after Pearl Harbor to join the US Armed Forces. As recently as the Persian Gulf War, Mexicans flooded American consulates with phone calls attempting to join up and fight the war for America.
Mexicans never forget who their friends are, and as a result, that is why Cinco de Mayo is such a celebration of freedom, liberty, and low drink prices — three ideals that Mexicans and Americans have fought shoulder to shoulder to defend ever since May 5, 1862.
Viva el Cinco de Mayo!
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