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Opening Arguments

Cinco de Mayo

Feliz Cinco de Mayo, that strange American celebration (it's not that big a deal south of the border) of Mexicans kicking some French butt. Actually, maybe it should be an American holiday

This battle delayed the French conquest. More troops were sent from France, and in 1864, the French installed Maximiliano of Habsburg as emperor. Benito Juarez and his government went into exile in the United States and his Republican Army continued to fight the French.

The U.S. Civil War ended in 1865, and at that time General Grant sent General Phil Sheridan to the border to supply the Mexican Army with arms and munitions. Union soldiers could muster out of the army in full uniform and with their weapons if they would go to Mexico and fight. In 1867, the French army left Mexico in defeat and Maximiliano was executed. In their short stay, the French contributed positively to the Mexican culture. They built La Reforma, the grand boulevard in Mexico City, they enhanced the cuisine with pastries and sauces, and they introduced the brass instruments which when blended with the Mexican strings gave us mariachi music.

I wonder what our history in the United States would have been if the Mexican Army had not delayed the French army at the Battle of Puebla on Cinco de Mayo. Perhaps it is a stretch to say that if the French had been allowed to aid and abet the Confederacy, our Civil War would have been prolonged and even have a different outcome. And so we celebrate Cinco de Mayo for the defeat of the French Army, which had an effect on our United States history.

It was five years after the Mexican victory at Puebla that Mexico finally sent France packing. I hope nobody posed in front of a "Mission Accomplished" banner.