Why do so many Americans celebrate Cinco de Mayo? Do they even know what it’s about?
Cinco de Mayo translates to ‘fifth of May.’ Many Americans and even a large number of Mexicans in the US believe that Cinco de Mayo is Mexican Independence Day, but they are wrong. Mexican Independence Day is actually September 16, not May 5.
Cinco de Mayo is the date commemorating the Mexican Army victory over French troops at the Battle of Puebla back in 1862.
After the Mexican-American War of 1846-48 and the Reform War of 1858-61, France occupied most of Mexico. In 1861, a large French military force arrived at Veracruz and began their drive towards Mexico City. The French were so powerful that they drove Mexican President Benito Juarez into a withdrawal away from the marching French army. However, on way to Mexico City, the 6,000 man French Army was defeated by a 2,000 man Mexican Army led by General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin. The date was May 5, 1862.
So why has Cinco de Mayo become such a large celebration here in the US? It has absolutely nothing to do with our nation and it is not the independence of Mexico.
If Americans want to celebrate key battles, then what about celebrating October 19 in commemorating the siege of Yorktown where General George Washington defeated the British? British Lord and Lieutenant General Charles Cornwallis surrendered to Washington on October 19, 1781. America declared its independence on July 4, 1776, but they WON their independence on October 19, 1781 after 5 long years of fighting. In reality, that should be our real Independence Day.
However, the huge influx of Mexicans into the United States has drawn our attention away from our own decisive victories and now we celebrate THEIR decisive victory.
What really galls me is that many stores and restaurants in America do more to celebrate Cinco de Mayo than they do to celebrate July 4. Living most of my life in Arizona, I’ve seen Cinco de Mayo celebrations last 3 to 5 days when July 4 is lucky to get 1 day or just an evening of fireworks.
Before long we’ll be celebrating October 3 as Iraq won their independence from Great Britain in 1932, or Jamhuri Day on December 12 to commemorate Kenya winning their independence from the British in 1863.
This is NOT Mexico, Iraq or Kenya. This IS America. We should be celebrating American holidays and events, not those of other countries. Every patriotic American should show their patriotism by refusing to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.