Monday, May 5, 2008

Cinco De Mayo

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Today is Cinco de Mayo. Schools, banks and government offices are closed. Even though I am only teaching a few private classes in companies now, I still use the Secretaria de Educación calendar. Pretty smart, huh? So I am home today and the weather stinks. It is very humid, raining off and on and plain old ugly outside.

So what is Cinco de Mayo really all about. Today commemorates an initial victory of Mexican forces led by General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín over French forces in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. Although the Mexican army was victorious over the French at Puebla, the victory only delayed the French invasion of Mexico City; a year later, the French occupied Mexico. The French occupying forces placed Maximilian I, Emperor of Mexico on the throne of Mexico. The French were eventually defeated and expelled in 1867. Maximilian was executed by President Benito Juarez, five years after the Battle of Puebla.

So how does this affect where I live? History says that French soldiers were arrested and taken to the south of Monterrey, Villa de Santiago (where I live). These soldiers were given hard time and pressed into service on ranches and farms. As you well know, Mexicans are really very hospitable and friendly people. Soon, the French soldiers were given their freedom. Many stayed on in the area only to start families. If you have ever been to this area South of Monterrey, you will find many European-looking people. Boy, I blend right in. Walking down the street can be confusing especially when we call light-skinned people "guero". Someone yells out, "oye, guero" and everyone turns around :). Here is a picture of the church in the main plaza in my little town.

Presidencia Municipal 201st Mexican Air Force Squadron

Not everyone in Mexico is trying to cross the border illegally or involved in organized crime. Most Mexicans are hard-working and patriotic people. The 201st Squadron is a great example. Many people don't realize that Mexicans are fighting in Iraq and also fought alongside U.S. forces during WW II. Read what was said about these brave soldiers:

The squadron flew with the 58th Fighter Group the rest of the month on support missions, often two per day helping the 25th Division in its break-through from Balete pass and Marikina Watershed area into the Cagayan Valley. They attacked every type of target marked in various manners, ie by map co-ordinates, by dry run vectoring,by bombing on white phosphorus artillery or mortar shells and L-5 spotters etc. The Groups mission including those run by the 201st in support of the 25th Division was highly commended by the Commanding General of the Division.There was no separation of a Mexican missions from an American mission as far the ground forces were concerned and that is sufficient praised in itself.

The remaining air force pilots of the 201st Squadron were honored in a special ceremony in Mexico City just last week.

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