[Congressional Record: May 6, 2002 (Senate)]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
CINCO DE MAYO
Mrs. CARNAHAN. Madam President, I am proud to take this
opportunity to recognize the Mexican holiday, Cinco de Mayo. This
holiday is a day to celebrate and appreciate Mexican history and
culture. I would also urge all Americans to take this opportunity to
learn more about the important contributions Mexicans and Mexican-
Americans have made to the United States.
The Cinco de Mayo holiday dates back to the mid-19th century. In
1862, the democratic nation of Mexico found itself under invasion from
the French, led by Napoleon III. On its march to conquer Mexico, the
French army met the Mexican army in the city of Puebla, just 100 miles
east of Mexico City. On May 5, 1862, the ill-equipped and outnumbered
Mexican army under Texas-born General Ignacio Zaragoza, would defy all
odds and defeat the superior French army at the Batalla de Puebla. This
defeat of the French, one of the strongest militaries in the world,
would become a symbol of the strength and determination of the Mexican
As immigration to the United States increased during the Mexican
Revolution and in subsequent years, Mexicans and Mexican-Americans
demonstrated these same qualities on the battlefield in defense of the
American flag. They were among the first to volunteer for the U.S.
armed forces during World War I and an estimated 375,000-500,000
Mexican-American soldiers served with honor during World War II. Jose
P. Martinez of Colorado would become the first American and one of many
Mexican-Americans to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor for his
heroism during World War II. Americans of Mexican descent would also
serve in the wars in Korea, Vietnam, the Cold War, and the Gulf War.
They continue to enlist in high numbers and remain committed to
military service in defense of the United States.
Military service is just one of countless contributions Mexicans and
Mexican-Americans have made to the United States. Cesar Chavez's
passion for justice and the right to organize resulted in improved
living and working conditions for people in California and throughout
the United States. Diego Rivera's artwork continues to inspire Latino
artists as well as others to paint murals that beautify our cities and
are available for the general public to appreciate. Missouri is also
proud of one of its own, Hector Barreto, who currently serves as
Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration. There are
currently 13 Mexican-American members in the House of Representatives
and I look forward to the day when I will have Mexican-American
colleagues here in the U.S. Senate as well.
The same strength of character and determination that was displayed
by the Mexican army at the Batalla de Puebla is evident in today's
Mexican-American leaders in business, labor, not-for-profits,
government, and in the arts. It is fitting that as we celebrate the
Cinco de Mayo holiday, we also recognize the valuable cultural, social,
and political contributions Mexicans and Mexican-Americans have made
and continue to make in the United States.
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