Students reflect on Cinco de Mayo

By Kiran Sood

Many Mexican students and non-Latinos alike will take time to celebrate and reflect on Cinco de Mayo today. Contrary to popular belief, Cinco de Mayo is not the date of Mexican independence, but rather the day that 4,000 Mexican soldiers defeated the French and rebel Mexican army of 8,000 at Puebla, Mexico, on the morning of May 5, 1862.

Jorge Diaz Nunez, junior in business, was born in Mexico and came to the United States at a very young age. He said that as a child he was not well educated on what the significance of the day actually was.

“I never really learned what the holiday meant in school, and I wish I had learned more about it at a younger age,” Nunez said. “However, I definitely knew that the holiday was meant to celebrate the Mexican spirit of determination and never giving up.”

Eddie Gonzalez, freshman in LAS, also said he did not know much about the history of the day when he was younger. Because he went to a predominantly white grade school, Gonzalez said the appreciation and knowledge of Mexican holidays was not strongly supported.

“Many Mexicans do not know what the holiday actually means,” Gonzalez said. “They think that it is Mexican Independence Day, when in actuality it is when we defeated the French in an amazing battle.”

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Gonzalez said that this historic battle produced positive effects for Mexicans, even to this day.

“This battle really put Mexico on the map,” Gonzalez said. “We showed the world that we are not a country to be messed around with.”

Nunez also stressed the importance the outcome of the battle had for Mexicans for generations to come.

“Our victory on Cinco de Mayo showed that Mexico is a force to be reckoned with,” Nunez said.

Jessica Villa, freshman in LAS, said many people often overlook the significance of the holiday.

“Its significance is kind of lost in the United States,” Villa said. “Cinco de Mayo is important because Mexico’s unprepared troops defeated the world’s greatest army, which was France at the time. This is a huge celebration of our pride.”

Richard Cordero, freshman in LAS, said he wishes more people were aware of the importance of this holiday in Mexican history.

“The fifth of May represents a day which showed the importance of Mexican liberty,” he said. “Although it is not the day of Mexican independence, it can be compared to the fourth of July in the fact that it is a time to celebrate freedom and liberty.”

Jonathan Elugbadebo, sophomore in LAS, said many people do not truly appreciate the significance of this holiday and all that it has to offer.

“Cinco de Mayo is a time for many Mexicans to unite together and celebrate their traditions and culture,” he said. “This day allows many diverse people to come together and celebrate the historical importance of this culture.”

Gonzalez said his family will celebrate with friends and family at home in Chicago, but he plans on going out and celebrating the day with his friends on campus.

Devin Chambers, freshman in LAS, said that celebrating and reflecting on this holiday is extremely important..

“At a time when many people, especially students, tend to neglect their traditions, celebrating Cinco de Mayo is extremely worthwhile,” Chambers said. “The Mexican heritage and traditions are often misconstrued and hopefully people can come to a greater understanding of the many long-lasting effects of this day.”ÿ