Friday, May 11, 2012

KCKCC Campus Child Care kids get inside look at Cinco De Mayo


Children in the Campus Child Care Center at Kansas City Kansas Community College got an in-depth look at Cinco de Mayo at this year’s celebration of the festive Mexican holiday.

Rudy Padilla, a KCK resident and noted historian on Mexican history, addressed a standing room only crowd of Child Care students, parents, faculty and staff that overflowed the College’s Conference Center.

The president of several volunteer Hispanic organizations in Kansas City and chapter commander for the national American GI Forum Hispanic family veterans organization, Padilla detailed how U.S. President Abraham Lincoln was intertwined with Mexican President Don Benito Juarez and the impact Lincoln had on Mexico before his assassination.

Cinco de Mayo – or the fifth of May – commemorates the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over France at the battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War of 1861-67.

In 1861, Benito Juarez had become president of a country in financial ruin and was forced to default on his debts to European governments. France, Britain and Spain all dispatched naval forces to Veracruz to demand reimbursement.

Britain and Spain negotiated with Mexico and withdrew but France under Napoleon Bonaparte III decided to use the opportunity to carve a dependent empire out of the Mexican territory.

Late in 1861, a well-armed French fleet stormed Veracruz, landing a large army that drove Pres. Juarez and his government into retreat. Confident of an easy victory, the French sent 6,000 troops to attack Puebla de Los Angeles, a small town in east-central Mexico.

From his new headquarters in the north, Juarez rounded up a rag-tag force of 2,000 loyal men – many of them either indigenous Mexicans or of mixed ancestry – and sent them to Puebla to prepare for the assault which came on May 5, 1862.

The battle lasted from daybreak to early evening and when the French finally retreated, they had lost nearly 500 soldiers compared to fewer than 100 Mexicans.

The battle did not end France’s aggression and in 1864, Maximilian of Austria (the nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte) entered Mexico City in triumph and Juarez rushed north to establish a provisional government – until Pres. Lincoln stepped front and center in 1867.

With the Civil War over, Lincoln immediately sent word to Napoleon Bonaparte to remove his troops or face his victorious northern forces of more than two million.

Bonaparte wasted no time in abandoning Mexico, leaving Maximilian to be executed as an enemy of Mexico and Juarez returned to his presidency.

“Benito Juarez and Abraham Lincoln shared many similarities,” said Padilla. “Both climbed up from humble beginnings. Juarez started as a shepherd and Lincoln as a rail splitter. Both were apprentices to lawyers, went into politics, were outstanding orators and made profound speeches that have had everlasting effects on their countries. Also, Juarez became the first constitutional president of Mexico in 1858; Lincoln the first Republican president of the U.S. in 1860.

“But above that, the two men respected each other and corresponded about common national problems including Mexico’s 40-year recovery following its battle for independence from Spain.”

The annual Campus Child Care celebration also included remarks and special presentations by Director Doris Holleman, a slideshow and pre-K graduation by Jakki Agee, a musical selection by Libby Graham and closing remarks by Dr. Charles Wilson, Dean of Social and Behavioral Sciences.


PHOTO: At the invitation of Director Doris Holleman, historian Rudy Padilla highlighted this year’s KCKCC Campus Child Care Center celebration of Cinco de Mayo with an in-depth look back at the happenings in Mexico on Cinco de Mayo May 5, 1862, (KCKCC Photo by Alan Hoskins)