A Cinco de Mayo Tribute to France

Quote of the Day:

History is a set of lies agreed upon.” Napoleon Bonaparte

TB has diligently research-i-pedia’d the history of Cinco de Mayo today in order to enlighten and entertain myself and hopefully those of you travellin’ through the TBU. It turns out the holiday, widely ignored in Mexico, commemorates the victory of 4000 Mexicans over a superior force of 8000 Frenchmen at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. And I suppose this is precisely the reason Mexicans, with ready access to tequila without need of a special occasion, think little of the day. After all, who hasn’t whipped the French.*

Before I go on, let me make clear one thing. I’m cool with the French. I dig the permissive sexual mores, the rich, languid culture of food, the hidden signs at the Louvre, Hemingway’s years there and Pepe Le Pew, among other notable achievements. In fact, I look forward to visiting the country some day and determining for myself whether a French waiter’s sneer is more offensive than a McDonald’s teenager’s shuffle. And I never uttered the godawful phrase “freedom fries”, even when I was mad at Pierre for opposing the US invasion of Iraq. Oh, and I don’t even know why they call them Froggies, so I don’t.

But let’s face it. The French–the culture that produced the greatest general ever and the baddest ass teenage girl general ever, the nation that brought all of Europe to heel once and whose ancient conquest of England centuries before that changed the world, and whose assistance after 1776 ensured the very existence of America–this great people have been on a losing streak in the game of war. And it all started with the humiliating loss to the Mexicans on cinco de mayo, 1862.

A recap of the French misfortunes of war since that time, again thoroughly research-i-pedia’d by moi:

  • Franco-Prussian War–1870-1871; Lost. Alsace-Lorraine went to Prussia. Worse still, the German states united.
  • World War I–1914-1919; technically they won. What did they win? Hmmm. ‘Bout all I can think of is the 42 surviving males under 60 had very little competition for the ladies. Oh wait, I think the doughboys and Hemingway ended up with most all the mademoiselles.
  • World War II–1939-1945; again they get the win on a technicality. What most people remember about this rousing victory is that they managed to pull it off from beneath a jack boot heel. Oh, and this time the Americans ended up with the Frauleins instead.
  • Algerian War–1954-1962; technically they lost because Algeria expelled them. Ironically, this can arguably be seen as their greatest triumph of the century.
  • Indochina Wars–mid 20th Century; lost Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. What’s worse, America was finally unable to overcome its close association with French military disasters and has been on a strategic losing streak ever since. Thanks France.

It ain’t pretty, kind of like an (here it comes) old French whore. (This is where a video of Garth Brooks as “Coco” the Old French Whore would be linked if I could’ve found it.)

With all this in mind as you head off to your local Mexican joint and for a few hours forget how much you hate illegal immigration, consider eschewing the margaritas in honor of America’s original ally. It really is kind of low to be having too much fun on a day that commemorates nothing of import for the winners, but inaugurated an era of infamy for the losers. So please, a little respect for the home of the little general (digression–isn’t it ironic the/their greatest general was ultimately a loser?). Skip the tequila. Order up a pitcher of sangria instead.


*Though it takes away from the humor I find in the new knowledge that today commemorates a Mexican Army victory over the French, I must note, lest you get into a debate during your third round of sangria this evening, that the French actually recovered from the loss on May 5 and eventually occupied Mexico City. They installed Emperor Maximillian and presumably collected the money they were sent to collect. So they “won.” Then again, they abandoned the country a few years later to the previous Mexican leadership because we “asked” them to. Guess they couldn’t count on us to save ’em if they got into a war with, um, us.


Finally, a little lagniappe:

About travellinbaen

I'm a 40 year old lawyer living in Ridgeland, Mississippi. I'm several years and a couple hundred miles removed from most of my old running buddies so I started the blog to provide an outlet for many of the observations and ideas that used to be the subjects of our late night/happy hour/halftime conversations and arguments.
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11 Responses to A Cinco de Mayo Tribute to France

  1. Harmony says:

    I wonder if the eventual overtaking of Mexico City is the reason why Mexicans do not participate. *shrugs*

    My quote for the day? “If we do what is necessary, all the odds are in our favor.” ~ Charles Buxton

    Happy Cinco de Mayo TB!

  2. tkh says:

    Well said, like we need a reason to drink? Well sure ok.

  3. Jessie Lou says:

    The Mexicans laughing all the way to the bank – all those restaurants capitalize on the Cinco de Mayo and make much moula (sp) on May 5th off all the gringos. Thanks for the history lesson this morning topped off by a song that made me want an umbrella drink, even though it was talking about Memphis.

  4. irvine redd says:

    Was he really ultimately a loser? I would say having your methods of war become the new standard for the next 100 years, and setting up the model for civil codes, again another thing that has lasted long since his death, qualifies as winning.

    I’m going to have to say that despite Napoleon’s eventual loss and death in exile, he did in fact create several things that lived on.

  5. Dammit Irv, why you wanna go and raise a complex question like that?? I DID call him “the greatest”!

    But you make a good point, for purposes of discussion if not my little goof on the French. Playing the devil’s advocate, or possibly Socrates, there is also a school of thought within military academic circles–at least the author of the piece I refer to was a professor of military history at the Air Force Academy and the Naval Postgraduate school–that the modern American military in structure and strategy is modeled on the German military of 1939-1945. But I’m still calling them the losers! And Napoleon too!

    Seriously, if you are interested in military history and/or the American military, this article is a fascinating read.


  6. JL, do you have a grudge against Memphis?

    Your comment triggered a deep thought within TB’s internal universe. Actually a deep query. Has any other town been the subject of more good songs? A future blog post might be in the….what’s the word…..offing….on the subject.

  7. Jessie Lou says:

    Nothing against Memphis at all! My comment was saying the song reminded me of the beach even though it was about Memphis. I can say that most times I’ve been through Memphis it was to get to a beach, oddly enough.

  8. irvine redd says:

    World War II did cause a switch in our military paradigm.

    On Napoleon, I once wrote a 20 page paper on Napoleon and the Emergence of Modern Warfare. A 40 minute presentation accompanied the paper, so I’ve actually spent a decent amount of time on the subject. It is fascinating. Especially when you consider that before Napoleon it was possible to have an entire “war” where no battle actually occurred. Napoleon basically said, “Screw that, let’s fight!”

  9. Harmony says:

    I heard about this story: http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local-beat/Students-Wearing-American-Flag-Shirts-Sent-Home-92945969.html on a local radio show this morning. I was wondering what thoughts the TBU might have on this.

    Side note: Some idiots called our local Live Oak High School (more than 3 hours north) with threats of violence.

  10. Crazy. The attack on civil liberties from all directions politically is depressing as hell. Especially depressing when your allies on one issue are your opponents on the next. Inconsistency, ignorance, hypocrisy. Crazy. And depressing as hell.

  11. irvine redd says:

    Saw something about that and didn’t even want to read it.

    TB, I suppose those folks have been visiting the TBU and quote you, when asked about their ridiculousness, “You can’t pigeonhole me!”

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