Friday, May 22, 2009
In a business meeting earlier today, the only Frenchman present referred to "the Mexican Army," meaning in the context a large group of barely organized people. As the meeting broke up you could hear the Americans wondering about the reference to "the Mexican Army" and what it possibly could have meant. I suppose it reflects poorly on our schools, or at least the supplemental materials on menus in Mexican restaurants, that I was the only one who knew that it refers to Cinco de Mayo from, well, the French perspective.
I try to point this little bit of history out to people when they act like the Texas War of Independence and the Mexican-American War were like Gen. Patton going all Nazi like in a bunch of defenseless girls. Of course, knowing stuff about history is not of much use any more, very few people care about it at all. I once had a intense discussion with a Berkeley student who claimed the Russian army did very little to beat the Germans in WWII and so we had little to fear from them and the military industrial complex was lying to us about them being dangerous. Seriously. The ignorant college student had never heard of Zhukov, but he had an opinion.
Meanwhile, the Web site of the French Embassy in the U.S. has a brief history of the French Foreign Legion:
"In Mexico, it won one of its greatest titles to fame: on April 30, 1863, at the Camerone Hacienda near Puebla, 3 officers and 62 legionnaires resisted 2,000 Mexicans. After a day of heroic fighting the last five survivors fixed bayonets and charged. This battle, whose name adorns every Legion flag, remains the symbol of a mission carried out to the bitter end."