|The logo for "Hero Street" in Silvis, IL. Photo credit to Hero Street Home Page, Fair Use Claimed|
Today is "Cinco de Mayo." It's the day the Mexican armed forces defeated the French on May 5, 1962. Our friends at Wikipedia explain it this way:
"It originated with Mexican-American communities in the American West as a way to commemorate the cause of freedom and democracy during the first years of the American Civil War, and today the date is observed in the United States as a celebration of Thanks to Mexico in fending off the would be French invasion of the U.S.. In the state of Puebla, the date is observed to commemorate the Mexican army's unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín. In the United States, Cinco de Mayo is generally mistaken to be Mexico's Independence Day—the most important national holiday in Mexico—which is celebrated on September 16."
|Charge of the Mexican Cavalry at the Battle of Puebla, from Wikipedia, author, Mike Manning, Public Domain|
This is not to say that for many proud, loyal Americans of Mexican and Hispanic heritage that today does not hold a special place in their heart. They do not need to pop open a beer or down a shot of Jose Cuervo to enjoy the day. If anything, they are repulsed with the excessive carousing that takes place. I suppose it is no different from the Irish-Americans who shake their heads in dismay at those who drink too much on March 17th.
So on this Cinco de Mayo, I thought it would be appropriate to highlight a group of Mexican Americans from a small town close to me in Silvis, Illinois. Here's a excerpt from a most special street in this town:
"It has been documented that as of the present day there have been over 100 young men and women from Second Street who have given service to the Untied States Military Forces. It had been researched and documented by The Department of Defense in Washington, D.C. that (there is no other street of comparable size) that has had as many men and women render service to the Armed Forces of the United States of America then the 11/2 block long street in Silvis, Illinois. Of these 100 or more Military men and women, six of them were killed in action during WWII and two during the Korean War."
This street in Silvis has been appropriately named "Hero Street." There is not a more fitting title for a place that sent its sons, Mexican by heritage and American by choice and service, to war. It was to the war that some of these patriots did not return.
|The display for "Hero Street" hero-street-park-plaque.jpg, fair use claimed|
Once upon a time a group of people came to an ordinary town in the Midwest. They took their circumstances not as a curse but a starting point. From this group of eternal optimists sprung children who raised their hand to serve. This group, this tight group, went to war for their country, our country. It is good to honor them. I am going to guess that May 5th was acknowledged by them as a day to remember, if not celebrate. I also am convinced that a holiday just shy of two months later mattered more, much more. That was a holiday they celebrated with passion and joy.
I suppose there were those who doubted this new Americans commitment. The same people who wondered if these new arrivals, with a different culture and skin color were worthy of being an American. Those who hailed from that poor stretch of homes in Silvis proved and shamed these bigots wrong. They proved it by their service and their sacrifice.
And where they called home was, and forever more will be, Hero Street. I cannot think of a better name, in English, or in Spanish.
Be well my friends,