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California was the first US state to celebrate the Mexican Army’s victory over French forces in the Battle of Puebla in 1862.
At that time France, Spain, and England were occupying Mexico territory in an effort to continue colonial activities. The Battle of Puebla was a surprise win for the Mexican forces.
Today, Puebla is home to 3.2 million people, making it the third-largest metropolis in Mexico, located just south of Mexico City. But at the time of the battle, the small town was protected by a town wall and five forts. Under the direction of Mexican General, Ignacio Zaragoza a limited Mexican Army, outgunned and under-supplied, took a stand in Puebla.
The French believed the populous would support the status quo and therefore stand with the French once the battle began. When fighting broke out the townsfolk took up arms to defend themselves. They aided the defending guerilla troops, quickly defeating the French soldiers.
Hearing of the battle and the circumstances of the win, the government commemorated those volunteers and guerillas. Four days after the Battle of Puebla, Mexico’s President Juárez declared the battle’s anniversary a national holiday: Cinco de Mayo!
In 1863, California joined the party celebrating the grit, determination, and victory of the people of Puebla against their oppressors, as well as the Mexican heritage of many California citizens. Those first celebrations helped nourish the fighting spirit needed to defeat Confederate troops during the Civil War era in California and in the US at large.
Join us in a Cinco de Mayo celebration and nourish your fighting spirit. Every day is a good day to overthrow those who would curtail the rights of others!
Thank you for joining us today! See you next time on Pendant and Ring.
Music Track in audio recording: Sonata
Music composed and recorded by Oak Studios
Creative Commons – Attribution ND 4.0