We celebrate “Cinco de Mayo” this weekend, which should be a fun filled festival, celebrating heritage. Instead what we have been seeing lately has been a degrading of the celebration and the funny thing about it is that it is coming from within our own Hispanic community! The most popular refrain is that this is just an American made holiday and just an excuse to eat tacos and drink Mexican made beers. Cinco de Mayo is not really an important day for Mexican-Americans to celebrate!
We ask ourselves what is the difference between Cinco de Mayo and St. Patrick’s Day, which is celebrated for Irish heritage. A day when everybody claims to be Irish. We drink green beer and eat corned beef and cabbage. We think it is a great idea that on one day everyone can be Mexican, drink Mexican beer and eat tacos. It is also a part of the assimilation process that different cultures go through. By being Mexican for one day, a connection is developed and a culture and their uniqueness is welcomed.
More important than eating and drinking though, is that Mexican Americans should take pride in the Battle of Puebla on the 5th of May when 4000 Mexicans who were ill equipped, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragosa, defeated 8000 French soldiers which represented the best of the French. This one battle reflected the courage and determination of the Mexican people and was a cause of great celebration in Mexico. This one battle instilled pride and courage into a people that would eventually throw off the yoke of imperialism and become a country of self-rule.
The blood of those heroes from this battle of 1862 surges through the veins of Mexican Americans today as Hispanics/Chicanos fight against the odds in their battle for self determination. We should celebrate this heritage, recognize our history, and feel great that everyone is a Mexican for a day and at the same time it would diminish the affect of such groups as, the Minutemen as we all raise our glasses in salud to being Mexican!