Friday, May 05, 2006

Cinco de Mayo

There is a pervasive misconception here is the States that Cinco de Mayo is analogous to our Fourth of July celebrations. For some reason we seem to think that Cinco de Mayo is the celebration of Mexico’s independence from Spain, however this celebration takes place on September 16th. Cinco de Mayo in fact commemorates the defeat of a French expeditionary force which had landed at Veracruz (familiar to students of military history as the site of America’s first major amphibious landing whose participants included both Robert E. Lee and George Meade.)

Mexico owed money to France and when Mexico stopped making its loan payments, the French government used this as a pretext to invade Mexico and attempt to install Napoleon’s relative, Archduke Maximilian of Austria, as Emperor of Mexico. An outnumbered group of Mexican patriots under the command of General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin (I wonder if he is of any relation to Juan Seguin, a Tejano who fought on the Texian side during the Texas Revolution?) defeated the French and preserved Mexico’s independence for another two years.

I have been in several arguments with people I would usually consider intelligent about the origins of Cinco de Mayo and it has always baffled me as to why these otherwise reasonable people would turn into complete jackasses over a holiday. Then it occurred to me; they can’t wrap their head around someone having a “We Kicked the Crap Out of the French” day. Almost everybody, including the French, have beat the French at one time or another, and those who have yet to serve France with a whuppin’ suffer more from lack of opportunity than anything else. Whenever I make this point some smartarse always asks, “What about Napoleon?” To which I often respond, “Shut up Rob you’re killing my not very funny and ridiculously easy ad hominem attack on France (or what I like to think of as my Bill O’Reilly Moment, BORM for short).” However I now have a better answer to that little speed bump. What happened to Napoleon? He met his Waterloo, as the kids say. Or, to put it in small terms Rob would understand, he lost. Badly.

Of course I do not mean to actually belittle the achievements of General Zaragoza and his band of plucky patriots. Merry Cinco de Mayo!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


You made me snorfle in my coffee with your France comments.