Monday, May 05, 2008

A Bit of History



Most people don't know that back in 1912, Hellmann's mayonnaise was manufactured in England . In fact, the Titanic was carrying 12,000 jars of the condiment scheduled for delivery in Vera Cruz, Mexico , which was to
be the next port of call for the great ship after its stop in New York .




This would have been the largest single shipment of mayonnaise ever delivered to Mexico . But as we know, the great ship did not make it to New York. The ship hit an iceberg and sank, and the cargo was forever lost.



The people of Mexico , who were crazy about mayonnaise, and were eagerly
awaiting its delivery, were disconsolate at the loss. Their anguish was so great, that they declared a National Day of Mourning, which they still observe to this day.




The National Day of Mourning occurs each year on May 5th and is known, of course, as ---Sinko de Mayo.

Shamefully stolen from my sister!


Here are a few facts about the origin of this celebration which I took from THIS SITE.

The 5th of May is not Mexican Independence Day, but it should be! And Cinco de Mayo is not an American holiday, but it should be. Mexico declared its independence from mother Spain on midnight, the 15th of September, 1810. And it took 11 years before the first Spanish soldiers were told and forced to leave Mexico.

So, why Cinco de Mayo? And why should Americans savor this day as well? Because 4,000 Mexican soldiers smashed the French and traitor Mexican army of 8,000 at Puebla, Mexico, 100 miles east of Mexico City on the morning of May 5, 1862.

The French had landed in Mexico (along with Spanish and English troops) five months earlier on the pretext of collecting Mexican debts from the newly elected government of democratic President (and Indian) Benito Juarez. The English and Spanish quickly made deals and left. The French, however, had different ideas.

Under Emperor Napoleon III, who detested the United States, the French came to stay. They brought a Hapsburg prince with them to rule the new Mexican empire. His name was Maximilian; his wife, Carolota. Napoleon's French Army had not been defeated in 50 years, and it invaded Mexico with the finest modern equipment and with a newly reconstituted Foreign Legion. The French were not afraid of anyone, especially since the United States was embroiled in its own Civil War.

The French Army left the port of Vera Cruz to attack Mexico City to the west, as the French assumed that the Mexicans would give up should their capital fall to the enemy -- as European countries traditionally did.

Under the command of Texas-born General Zaragosa, (and the cavalry under the command of Colonel Porfirio Diaz, later to be Mexico's president and dictator), the Mexicans awaited. Brightly dressed French Dragoons led the enemy columns. The Mexican Army was less stylish.
General Zaragosa ordered Colonel Diaz to take his cavalry, the best in the world, out to the French flanks. In response, the French did a most stupid thing; they sent their cavalry off to chase Diaz and his men, who proceeded to butcher them. The remaining French infantrymen charged the Mexican defenders through sloppy mud from a thunderstorm and through hundreds of head of stampeding cattle stirred up by Indians armed only with machetes.

When the battle was over, many French were killed or wounded and their cavalry was being chased by Diaz' superb horsemen miles away. The Mexicans had won a great victory that kept Napoleon III from supplying the confederate rebels for another year, allowing the United States to build the greatest army the world had ever seen. This grand army smashed the Confederates at Gettysburg just 14 months after the battle of Puebla, essentially ending the Civil War.

Union forces were then rushed to the Texas/Mexican border under General Phil Sheridan, who made sure that the Mexicans got all the weapons and ammunition they needed to expel the French. American soldiers were discharged with their uniforms and rifles if they promised to join the Mexican Army to fight the French. The American Legion of Honor marched in the Victory Parade in Mexico, City.

It might be a historical stretch to credit the survival of the United States to those brave 4,000 Mexicans who faced an army twice as large in 1862. But who knows?

In gratitude, thousands of Mexicans crossed the border after Pearl Harbor to join the U.S. Armed Forces. As recently as the Persian Gulf War, Mexicans flooded American consulates with phone calls, trying to join up and fight another war for America.



18 comments:

Amanda said...

Loved reading that. Thanks.

Liz said...

The Chapultepec Castle, were Maximiliano & Carlota lived (and I think were shut) is now a museum in Mexico city. A beautiful place to visit after the anthropology museum of course!

P said...

LOL! Happy Cinco de Mayo! How are you doing? I enjoy reading your blog and I hope I can be as good of a writer as you some day! Hope to see you soon!

The Localmalcontent said...

Very enlightening, Rita. Thanks!

Judith said...

I may never think of mayo the same again. Thanks for a great history lesson. More, I say more.

Thursday's Child said...

And how do we repay them for their love of our country and desire to help us? Call them wetbacks and resent their desire to live and work here.

(And we treat the ones who got here illegally even worse.)

Thriver said...

hah sinko de mayo! love it!
but thanks for explaining the real holiday.

Technonana said...

Loved All of the info!! It was a great read!!! I heard a radio disk-jockey say he called Cinco de Mayo, Mexican St. Patrick's Day.. that's pretty much the feeling here...just another reason to "Party".

Jane said...

I love this! What a hoot.
Check out the pictures on my blog from my hubby's bday!

Webutante said...

I adore Hellman's mayo and always will. Great and interesting post....you're always full of surprises!

Brenda said...

I love 5 de Mayo in California. They know how to celebrate!

Gayle said...

Oh my gosh, you really had me going, Rita. Here I was thinking about all this mayonese wasted on the bottom of the ocean! LOL! Good one! :)

The Hermit said...

I wish they'd all go home to celebrate it! :-(

Sarah Joy said...

I really enjoyed this! Thanks for posting it!

crazy4danes said...

Sinko de Mayo!...HaHaHa!!! Loved that...also loved the rest of the history reading...great post! :)

WomanHonorThyself said...

lol..good one girly!

Just Some Guy said...

The mayo wasn't ALL lost, though. Most of it eventually washed up on the shores of Corpus Christi, Texas and began to ferment. Texans henceforth refer to the sinking as the 'Stinko de Mayo'...

Sarah Joy said...

JM, I was talking to my husband about this and he said that Mexican military personnel can volunteer to go to Iraq with the American army. We have a friend here who applied, but his application was denied, I'm not sure why. When he was discharged from the military, he came here to work at the orphanage and go to Bible college.