May is one of my favorite months of the year. It is a time when many special celebrations unfold and that culminates with our coming together as Americans to remember the sacrifices of our brave men and women who have given their lives while serving in the U.S. military.
One of the most notable early celebrations comes on the 5th of May. Cinco de Mayo is a widely celebrated holiday though sadly most Americans lack an understanding of its history and the ties to early Texans. Contrary to popular belief, Cinco de Mayo isn’t Mexican Independence Day. It commemorates the Mexican army’s victory over the French empire in 1862 at the Battle of Puebla. This significant victory led to celebrations throughout Mexico bringing forth a unification of the country and great national pride during a very trying time. It also solidified a critical alliance with the United States which is significant as it prevented France from aiding the Confederacy during the Civil War. The young general who led the ragtag army was Ignacio Zaragoza, born in what is now Goliad, Texas in 1829 with family ties traced in records from the Texas General Land Office.
Cinco de Mayo celebrations early gatherings can be found deep in Texas’ roots and within the Tejanos who helped change the course of history. History shows Cinco de Mayo festivities in El Paso, Laredo, and San Antonio in the 1880s and in Fort Worth, the newspaper, Gazette, printed on May 5, 1886, that “the entire city of Paso del Norte [El Paso] just across the Rio Grande is indulging in a grand jollification with a long procession, a firing of artillery, and a big ball to wind up with to-night.” Today, the General Zaragoza State Historic Site established in Goliad State Park is heralded as a special place of historical significance. In 1990, Texas declared Goliad to be the “official place to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.”
May also brings the blessing of Mother’s Day, a time to honor our moms as they are the ones who consistently rise to meet whatever situation confronts them in life. Whether biological, adoptive, step, in-law or that reassuring woman who seemingly accepts everyone as one of her own, the strength of mothers encompasses every aspect of our world. One day a year to recognize the infinite contributions mothers make is just not enough to justify the appreciation they are due (which my daughters and I see every day within my wonderful wife, Beth, and from my own mom.) Throughout history, we have learned of the many heroic actions of women who have ignited love, hope, and perseverance out of a vision that comes from the eyes of a mother. Yet, there are so many stories that remain untold, unknown, or are hardly familiar to the general population – but rest assured, where a positive difference has been made in either one life or billions of others, a mother’s love is the common thread.
This month typically holds the dates of graduations. From early education to graduate studies, the hopes, dreams, and aspirations of our future are realized and shaped by the graduates whose grand achievements will forever remain the bedrock of bright futures. Congratulations to all the area graduates as you celebrate this extraordinary accomplishment.
The last day of May is held to honor the brave who served in our great Nation’s military and fought for the freedoms and liberties we deeply cherish. Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day originating after the Civil War with historical records tracing one of the earliest commemorations organized by a group of freed slaves. As honoring lives lost in service evolved, an official designation of the May 31 federal holiday was made in 1971. We have lost many great heroes within our own communities who died with a love of country, a love of their fellow Americans, and the ideals that built and protects our democracy. We must never forget our heroes, their families, and the greatest blessing to be an American. Every year, there is a moment of remembrance that takes place at 3 p.m. local time.
Whatever special meaning May holds for you, I hope you find cause for great celebration and gratitude with people who shape your world today and a special remembrance for the lives that were lived and hold a place within the fabric of our society always.
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