Cinco de Mayo has been celebrated since 1862 when the Texas-born, General Zaragosa led a rag-tag band of Mexican soldiers to victory at the “Battle of Puebla” against an invading French Army more than double their size. The outcome of the battle devastated the French, preventing them from supplying the Confederate army with munitions during the American Civil War. In gratitude, Union forces rushed to the Texas-Mexico border to aid the Mexicans in yet another battle with the French. This resulted in a second French defeat, and Mexican and American soldiers marching side by side in a grand Victory Parade in Mexico City.
Historian Justo Sierra, has written in his Political Evolution of the Mexican People, that had Mexico not defeated the French in Puebla on May 5, 1862, France would have gone to the aid of the South in the U.S. Civil War and the United States’ destiny could have been very different.
It might be a historical stretch to credit the survival of the United States to those brave 4,000 Mexicans who faced an army twice as large in 1862. But who knows?
In gratitude, thousands of Mexicans crossed the border after Pearl Harbor to join the U.S. Armed Forces. As recently as the Persian Gulf War, Mexicans flooded American consulates with phone calls, trying to join up and fight another war for America.
Mexicans, you see, never forget who their friends are, and neither do Americans. That’s why Cinco de Mayo is such a party — A party that celebrates freedom and liberty. There are two ideals which Mexicans and Americans have fought shoulder to shoulder to protect, ever since the 5th of May, 1862. VIVA! el CINCO DE MAYO!!