Cinco de Mayo is not only celebrated by Mexicans but also by others who embrace freedom. It’s not a celebration of Independence such as the 4th of July. But, at the same time, many events and battles took place which did lead to Independence from France.
Why the attention to Cinco de Mayo (the 5th of May?). We teach it as an example of determination and courage. Against all odds an ill equipped outnumbered army of young soldiers defeated a sophisticated French Forces on the 5th of May, 1862 under Ignacio Zaragoza. The French army, was attempting to take over and capture Puebla de Los Angelas, a small town in east central Mexico. The battle of Puebla lasted from daybreak to early evening, and when the French retreated they had lost nearly 500 soldiers to the fewer than 100 Mexicans killed.
Victory at the battle of Puebla represented a great moral victory for these young soldiers and the Mexican government, symbolizing the country’s ability to defeat its sovereignty against threat by a powerful foreign nation.
Today Mexicans and Americans alike, celebrate the anniversary of the battle of Puebla because the United States, and its President at the time, Abraham Lincoln, supported the victory of the Mexicans. Lincoln sent arms to the Mexicans and would have sent assistance and more support, but at the time the United States was in the middle of the Civil War. President Lincoln supported the victory of the Mexicans because it kept Napoleon from supplying the confederate rebels for another year which allowed the United States to build the greatest army the world has ever known. They defeated the confederates at Gettysburg just 14 months after the battle of Puebla essentially ending the Civil War.
Mexicans never forget who their friends are and neither do Americans! That’s why Cinco de Mayo is such a celebration - a celebration that honors freedom and liberty.
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