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5 de Mayo
Cinco de Mayo commemorates the victory of the Mexican army over French occupiers in the Battle of Puebla in 1862. While fighting against the French occupancy continued for the next five years, this battle marked the beginning of what eventually became the defeat of French authority in the country. Whether residing in a small rural community in Maltrata, in an urban enclave in Mexico City, or in Northfield, Minnesota, the celebration surrounding Ignacio Zaragoza’s unexpected defeat of French troops is still vitally important to the Mexican identity and psyche.
Today, the celebration serves as a reminder of the power, will, and destiny of the Mexican people. A destiny and faith that demonstrates that against all odds, Mexican people will overcome. They will overcome imperialism, unfit armies, injustice, and mistreatment. The celebration calls on Mexican people to be proud of their Patria (homeland): to be proud of the music, language, and culture that makes them unique.
At church the week before the 5 de Mayo celebration in Northfield, Lucinda Gonzalez makes an announcement reminding the congregation of the significance of this celebration, relating the Mexican victory and resilience to God’s will. As she invited the congregation to participate in the event she states:
Who was it that helped liberate our homeland? It was Ernesto Zaragoza. But who gave strength and resilience to Ernesto Zaragoza? God. Our father, God, right? Everything is related, everything. 1
Lucinda Gonzalez, interviewed by Sarah Goldman, May 5, 2014.↩