Gainesville Middle School students celebrate Cinco de Mayo
By CATHY MOUNCE, Register Staff Writer
A Mariachi band, dancers, and music welcomed students to a festive Cinco de Mayo celebration Friday at Gainesville Middle School.
Cinco de Mayo, or “fifth of May” is a popular holiday that is celebrated not only across Texas but in other parts of the United States. Governed under the flag of Mexico until 1836, however, Texas shares more than a border with its southern neighbor. Music, language, food and art are intertwined in the history of the two cultures.
Popular Mexican songs and folk music filled the GMS gymnasium from the brass and stringed instruments of the band, Mariachi Allende.
“We welcome them to our school and we thank the Hispanic Association for arranging for them to be here,” said Gainesville Middle School principal Terry Ashby.
Another facet of the Hispanic culture, the Aztecs, were represented during the event by “Heart of the Warrior,” an Indian dance group.
Warrior leader, Evelio Flores urged the students to be content and work hard.
“Love yourself, your family and your life. Time passes so quickly and one day you will look back on this time and realize how special it was,” he said. “Don’t be negative. Be positive and don’t listen to bad things. Listen to the good voice that is in each of you.”
Adorned in traditionally colorful costumes, the dance group Los Amigos under the direction of choreographer Sara L. Rayos performed intricate dance steps to Mexican folk music.
“We have some wonderfully talented students who are part of today’s celebration. Our choir will be singing and some members of the dance group are students at our school,” GMS nurse Donna Hess said.
Historical facts about Cinco de Mayo
Festivals are held across the state to celebrate Mexico’s most famous military victory in defeating the French invaders during the Franco-Mexican War (1861-1867.) the state has a long-standing Mexican heritage and follows many Mexican traditions, including celebrating the popular Mexican holiday Cinco de Mayo. Although many people believe this is strictly a border-region phenomenon, towns across the country hold festivals to celebrate Mexico's most famous military victory.
When Benito Juarez became president of Mexico in 1860, his country was in financial ruin and he had to default on debts owed to European governments including France, Britain and Spain. Britain and Spain negotiated a settlement but France decided to use the opportunity to invade Mexico in order to gain Mexican territory.
Upon landing at Veracruz, a well armed French army forced the Juarez government into retreat. In 1862, the Mexican army stood and defeated the French at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War (1861-1867) Although it did not end the war, the Puebla victory was symbolic for the Mexican government beginning a resistance movement. Six years later the Mexican army triumphed and France withdrew thanks in part to military support and political pressure from the United States who was finally able to come to the aid of its North American neighbor after the U.S. Civil War.