The Story Behind Celebrating Cinco de Mayo

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Cinco de Mayo, which means May 5 in Spanish, is probably one of the most misunderstood holidays that Americans celebrate. In fact, Cinco de Mayo isn’t even a holiday, Mexican or American. May 5th isn’t even Mexico’s Independence Day. That is celebrated on September 16.

Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican army’s unlikely victory over the French forces of Napoleon III on May 5, 1862, at the Battle of Puebla. Mexico had trouble paying back war debts to European countries, and France had come to Mexico to collect that debt.  The French army, under General Charles Latrille de Lorencez, led 6,000 French troops out to attack Puebla de Los Angeles, a small town in east-central Mexico. From his headquarters in the north, Mexican President Benito Juarez rounded up a motley force of 2,000 loyal men and sent them to Puebla.

The Battle of Puebla lasted from daybreak to early evening when the French finally retreated after losing nearly 500 soldiers.  Fewer than 100 Mexicans had been killed in the clash. Although not a major strategic win in the overall war against the French, the success at the Battle of Puebla on May 5th represented a great symbolic victory for the Mexican government and strengthened the resistance movement. In 1867 – thanks in part to military support and political pressure from the United States, which was finally in a position to aid its besieged neighbor after the end of the American Civil War – France finally withdrew.

Within Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is primarily observed in the state of Puebla, although other parts of the country also take part in the celebration.  Traditions include military parades, recreations of the Battle of Puebla and other festive events.  It is not a federal holiday, so offices, banks and stores remain open.

Today, Cinco de Mayo is more of an American celebration than a Mexican holiday.  A celebration that includes parties, mariachi music, Mexican folk dancing, Mexican food and probably a few margaritas.

United States Flag Store is here to answer all your questions.  Feel free to give us a toll free call at 1-877-734-2458 or email us at support@onlinestores.com.

August Flag Trivia

Three States ceded into the Union in the month of August throughout our history. Missouri was the first on August 10, 1821. It was the 24th State and that brought our National Flag to 24 stars and its design was 3 rows of 6 stars with alternating red and white stripe. Then came Colorado on August 1, 1876. It was the 38th State and the 38 stared Flag was 5 rows of alternating 8 in a row and 6 in a row. On August 21, 1959 Hawaii became the 50th State to join the Union. The individual State Flags can be found on the United States Flag Store for a great low price.

Am flagOur 50 star Flag has a unique story that I would like to share because the adding of the 50th Star was done by a High School Senior. It was designed by Robert Heft, a 17 year old that was doing a history project. He took a 48 star Flag and measured out 100 stars on the blue section. Now this was back in 1959 and Alaska had just been admitted into the Union and this young man was pretty forward thinking. So he sewed the stars on with anticipation of Hawaii becoming a State. He turned his project in to his teacher Stanley Pratt. Well Pratt was not too impressed and Heft only received a B-. Heft, thinking ahead as usual argued his point that there would be 50 states in the future. Pratt told him if he could get Congress to accept his design he would change his grade to an A. Heft then sent the Flag to Congressman Walter Henry Moeller (Ohio) until we needed a 50 Star Flag. By August of 1959, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the proclamation to add Hawaii to the Union.

hawaii-sliderCongressman Moeller brought Heft’s Flag to the design committee where President Eisenhower himself choose Hefts’ design out of over 1500 others to choose from to become our National symbol. On July 4th, 1960, Bob Heft stood with President Eisenhower to watch the first 50 Star National Flag be raised. The 50 Star Flag has flown over the United States for 54 years now. What an accomplishment for a young man of only 17 years old. Mr. Heft passed away on December 12, 2009. You may hear Bob’s story in his own words on Story Corps at http://storycorps.org/listen/bob-heft/

Just to let you know Bob did finally get his “A” on his history project!

~Jacquie