Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Our Mexican Friends and Neighbors and Cinco de Mayo

Every Sunday I see them.

Scores of families walking across Ross Avenue into a huge Downtown church where thousands gather every weekend for prayer and worship.

Almost all of these families moved to the U. S. from Mexico.

As I watch these beautiful people and their children, I know instinctively that they are here in Dallas working hard to create the best possible life for themselves and their children., just like all of the rest of us. I also know that if they were not here, Dallas would not be he same city. Their departure would be our loss.

At the same time, I know they encounter hatred and opposition as they build their lives.

Word from Washington these days includes reports that immigration reform will move onto the agenda of the U. S. Congress before the end of this year. We know that there is strong movement to bring the D.R.E.A.M. Act forward again with indications that its chances of passage are much greater this time around. I hope both happen. Somehow we've got to find new ways to manage the obvious: the U. S. and Mexico are neighbors and should become much closer working partners, as is the case with Canada.

Here we are at Cinco de Mayo once again. I've decided to publish the post I put up two years ago as a reminder of the holiday's significance. Just to let you know, I plan to use this post every May 5 until we have a D.R.E.A.M. Act. The history that binds us is very important.

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

This is a special day across the United States and Mexico.

Numerous neighborhoods across Dallas are celebrating the famous Battle of Puebla, Mexico on May 5, 1862, the day on which Mexican General Ignacio Zaragoza SeguĂ­n, outnumbered 2 to 1, routed the French army.

So, why Cinco de Mayo?

Under Emperor Napoleon III, the French invaded Mexico with designs of staying in order to challenge the United States, at the time involved in its own Civil War.

Napoleon's 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 Army left the port of Vera Cruz to attack Mexico City about 100 miles to the west. The French believed that if the Mexican Capitol fell, the nation would be theirs.

Under the innovative and daring leadership of Zaragoza, the Mexican army more than prevailed. The outcome of the battle on United States history is often overlooked. The victory prevented the French from supplying the Confederate rebels in the U. S. for another year.

As the American Civil War wound down, following the Union victory at Gettysburg, U. S. General Phillip Sheridan traveled to the Mexican border to bring materials needed to expel the French completely. At this time 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.

Almost 100 years later, 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.

Cinco de Mayo is a community party! It is a day to celebrate liberty and freedom. It is a celebration bringing together the United States and Mexico. It is a day for remembering our common heritage and our connection as people. It is a day and an event that I remember almost every morning as I drive by Ignacio Zaragoza Elementary School in my neighborhood!

It seems to me that it's a party we all need to join, now as never before.

What do you think?

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1 comment:

mrp said...

I teach 5th grade in a predominantly Hispanic community in Kansas City. As we reenacted this part of history yesterday and discussed its implications my kids had a hard time comprehending the fact that, historically, the United States and Mexico have fought side by side to protect their ideals of liberty and freedom. Their understanding is that those from the United States hate Mexicans. Needless to say we were able to examine the history and also talk about what factors make them feel this way today.

As I read this familiar story I am reminded not only of our short sightedness as a country, but also of our ignorant attitudes toward immigrants and their lives. My 10 and 11-year old students could teach us all a lot.

Thank you for helping to point people toward Christ - forcing us to deny ourselves and use Scripture to guide our lives instead of political ties, economic subjectivity, or any other basis.