Tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo, which makes today the fourth of May. Cinco de Mayo is a holiday in which Mexico celebrates their victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. Throughout Mexico and the United States, many celebrate Cinco de Mayo as they would the Fourth of July.
In July 1861, Mexican President Benito Juárez suspended all foreign debt for two years. This did not sit well with France, Britain, and Spain. The three countries sent naval ships to Veracruz in protest.
After negotiations with Britain and Spain, those two countries withdrew their forces. France, however, did not. Napoleon decided this would be a perfect opportunity to establish a French presence in Mexico.
In the latter part of 1861, the French decided to land a substantial force of soldiers at Veracruz. The 8000-strong French force started marching toward Mexico City where they met the resistance of a considerably smaller Mexican army numbering only 4000.
Many did not believe the Mexicans could hold off the French. General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín, the commander of the Mexican army, dutifully and expertly lead his inferior force to a victory over the French on May 5, 1862.
The significance of the Battle of Pueblo is twofold: first, no one ever expected the Mexicans to win over a force of French twice their number. Secondly, it was the last time a European concern landed in the Americas.
Early this morning my wife called from her parent’s home where she is spending the week preparing for Mother’s Day. Somehow, we started talking about Cinco de Mayo, at which point, she said something about The Federation assisting the Mexicans, and that is how they beat the superior French force.
“The Federation? What Federation?” I asked.
“You know,” she said. “Luke, Hans, R2-D2 and C-3PO, Chewbacca, and the lot.”
“U-huh,” I answered, not knowing where this could possibly go.
Then, in her penchant for puns, she said simply, “May the fourth be with you.”
© 2011 J. Clark