THIS MONTH IN HISTORY – MAY

Below please find an outline of the significant historical events that occurred in the month of May:

May 1 – Since ancient times, a day for festivals celebrating the arrival of the Spring season. Today, many socialist countries celebrate “May Day” on May 1 as a holiday to celebrate workers.
May 1, 1707 – Scotland was combined with England and Wales to form Great Britain. The later addition of Northern Ireland formed the UK.
May 1, 1960 – An American U-2 spy plane piloted by Francis Gary Powers was shot down over Russia on the eve of a summit between President Eisenhower and Soviet Premier Nikita Khruschev. The incident caused the cancellation of the summit and increased Cold War tensions between the two countries.
May 2, 2011 – US Special Forces located and killed Osama bin Laden at his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
May 4, 1494 – Christopher Columbus, still seeking the Northwest Passage, discovered the island of Jamaica.
May 4, 1970 – Ohio National Guard troops fired into a student demonstration at Kent State University killing four students.
May 5 – Mexican holiday celebrating Mexican forces’ defeat of a numerically superior French invasion force in the Battle of Puebla in 1862.
May 5, 1865 – Celebration of Decoration Day honoring soldiers killed in the Civil War. Eventually, morphed into Memorial Day.
May 5, 1961 – Astronaut Alan Shepard completed a 15 minute suborbital flight, thus becoming the first American to fly in space.
May 6, 1937 – The German blimp, Hindenburg, burst into flames killing 36 of its 97 passengers.
May 7, 1915 – The shocking sinking of the Lusitania, a British passenger ship, by a German U-boat hastened the US’s entry into WWI on the side of the Allies.
May 7, 1954 – The French surrendered at Dien Bien Phu, ending their colonial presence in Indo-China. Eventually, this event led to the US’s ill-advised involvement in Vietnam.
May 8, 1942 – The Battle of the Coral Sea, which historians consider to be the turning point of WWII in the Pacific, commenced. US naval forces defeated Japan for the first time and began their inexorable march toward the Japanese mainland.
May 10, 1869 – The Union Pacific and Central Railroads joined at Promontory Point, UT (symbolized by driving a golden spike into the roadbed), creating the Transcontinental Railroad, which linked the entire US.
May 10, 1994 – Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as president of South Africa, bringing an official end to Apartheid.
May 12, 1949 – Russia ended its blockade of West Berlin.
May 14, 1607 – The first permanent English settlement was established at Jamestown, VA.
May 14, 1804 – The Lewis and Clark expedition of the northwest, which lasted some 18 months and covered some 6,000 miles, departed St. Louis.
May 14, 1796 – English Dr. Edward Jenner developed the smallpox vaccine. He coined the term, vaccination, to describe his method of injecting a weakened version of the disease into a healthy person, who would then fight off the disease and develop an immunity.
May 14, 1948 – The State of Israel declared its independence.
May 15, 1972 – While campaigning for the presidency, George Wallace was shot and paralyzed from the waist down.
May 17, 1792 – Some two dozen brokers and merchants began meeting under a buttonwood tree on Wall Street to buy and sell stocks and bonds. Eventually, this led to the establishment of the NY Stock Exchange.
May 17, 1875 – The initial running of the Kentucky Derby took place at Churchill Downs, Louisville, KY.
May 17, 1954 – The Supreme Court, in a landmark decision, Brown vs. The Board of Education (Topeka, KS), ruled that school segregation based on race was unconstitutional.
May 20, 1927 – Aviator, Charles Lindberg took off from Roosevelt Field on Long Island for the first solo non-stop flight between NY and Europe (landing in Paris).
May 20, 1932 – Amelia Earhart became the first female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. In 1937, while attempting to fly across the Pacific Ocean, she was lost at sea, and her fate remains shrouded in mystery to this day.
May 21, 1881 – Clara Barton founded the American Red Cross.
May 22, 1947 – Congress approved the Truman Doctrine, which provided foreign aid to Greece and Turkey, which was necessary to prevent the spread of communism in that region.
May 24, 1844 – Samuel Morse, inventor of the telegraph, transmitted the first telegram (“What hath God wrought?”).
May 26, 1940 – Great Britain commenced the evacuation of its army trapped at Dunkirk.
May 27, 1937 – The Golden Gate Bridge opened in San Francisco.
May 30, 1783 – The Pennsylvania Evening Post became the first newspaper to be published in the US on a daily basis.
May 30, 1922 – The Lincoln Memorial, designed by architect Henry Bacon, was dedicated in Washington, D. C.
May 31, 1889 – The infamous Johnstown Flood of 1889 killed some 2,300 persons.

Birthdays – Niccolo Machiavelli – 5/3/1469; Golda Meir – 5/3/1898; Karl Marx – 5/5/1818; Sigmund Freud – 5/6/1856; Harry S. Truman (33rd President) – 5/8/1884; Israel Isidore Beilin (aka Irving Berlin – songwriter) – 5/11/1888; Florence Nightingale – 5/12/1820; Gabriel Fahrenheit (physicist) – 5/14/1686; Nguyen That Thanh (aka Ho Chi Minh – 5/19/1890; Malcolm Little (aka Malcolm X) – 5/19/1925; Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes creator) – 5/22/1859; Laurence Olivier – 5/22/1907; Ralph Waldo Emerson – 5/25/1803; Al Jolson- 5/26/1886; James Butler (aka Wild Bill) Hickok – 5/27/1837; Hubert Humphrey – 5/27/1911; Jim Thorpe – 5/28/1888; Patrick Henry – 5/29/1736; John Fitzgerald Kennedy 35th President) – 5/29/1917; Walt Whitman – 5/31/1819.

MEMORIAL DAY

This weekend, millions of Americans will celebrate Memorial Day.  Traditionally, most of us have viewed MD as a day off from work, part of a three-day weekend, a day to gather with friends and relatives, watch sports, barbecue, go to the beach or pool club, or maybe go away for a mini-vacation.  This year, after more than a year of suffering through pandemic-related restrictions, most people are ready to “bust loose” and celebrate the holiday weekend in the traditional manner. In many areas of the country beaches, pools, amusement parks, picnic areas and other outdoor venues will be open and sporting events will resume, in many cases with full attendance.

Unfortunately, this year inclement weather will be a factor in many areas. In particular, rainy and record cold weather is forecast for the east and northeast for most of the weekend. This may put a damper on some holiday plans. Nevertheless, according to the Washington Post AAA is predicting that in excess of 37 million persons will be traveling by automobile this weekend. This would be a 60% increase over 2020 but some six million below the pre-pandemic average. If you are on the roads please use extra caution, particularly where the pavement is wet and/or slippery.

Normally, MD weekend is the deadliest three-day period on the roads. The National Safety Council estimates there will be some 400 traffic fatalities over the holiday weekend this year. Don’t become a statistic!

Back to the holiday, itself.   How many of us actually stop and ponder the meaning of MD?  What does it mean?  What is its derivation?  Well, I’m glad you asked.  Read on.

According to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs the purpose of MD is to honor veterans who have died in the service of their country.  (Some people confuse it with Veterans’ Day, celebrated in November, which is to honor LIVING veterans for their service.)  MD is celebrated on the final Monday in May, which this year is May 31.  It has also evolved into the unofficial start of summer and Opening Day for beaches, pools and vacation homes. Last year, due to COVID restrictions these activities were severely limited, but this year due to widespread vaccinations many states have loosened restrictions. Most areas will enjoy a return to normalcy, or at least close to it.

The original name for MD was “Decoration Day.”  The custom of decorating soldiers’ graves with flowers is centuries old.  Its origins are murky, but after the Civil War it became customary to “decorate” soldiers’ graves with flowers as a way to honor those who had died in that war.

Several cities claim to be the birthplace of MD.  Warrenton, Va. claims that the first CW soldier’s grave was decorated there in 1861.  Women began decorating soldiers’ graves in Savannah, Ga. as early as 1862.   Boalsburg, Pa. and Charleston, SC, among others, have also made claims.  NY became the first state to recognize MD as an official holiday in 1873.  In 1966 President Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo, NY to be the official birthplace of MD.

The basis of Waterloo’s claim is that in 1865 a group of locals, including a pharmacist, Henry Welles, General John Murray, a CW hero, and a group of other veterans, simply marched to the local cemeteries and decorated the soldiers’ graves with flowers.  What gave Waterloo an edge in the birthplace battle was that Murray was an acquaintance of General John Logan, the general who issued “Logan’s Order,” the proclamation that declared “Decoration Day” should be celebrated annually nationwide.

At first, MD was celebrated on May 30 every year.  The date seems somewhat arbitrary as it was not the anniversary of any famous battle or military event.  Perhaps, it was chosen simply because flowers with which the graves are decorated are in bloom and plentiful at that particular time of the year.  The name, “Decoration Day” was gradually replaced by MD beginning in 1882, and in 1887 MD became the official name.  In 1968 the Congress moved the holiday to the last Monday in May.  This annoyed many traditionalists, but the lure of a three-day weekend overcame any objections, and the Monday date has prevailed.

There are some MD traditions worth noting:

  1. Flying the flag at half-staff.

Most of the time one will see the flag flown at half-staff all day; however, technically, this is not proper.  The flag should be raised to the top and then lowered to half-staff.  This is intended to honor those who have died for their country.  At noon, the flag is to be raised again to full staff, where it remains for the rest of the day.  This is to recognize that the deceased veterans’ sacrifices were not in vain.

  1. Poppies.

Poppies have become the official flower of remembrance, declared as such by the American Legion in 1920.  This is derived from WWI and the Battle of Ypres (English pronunciation is “Wipers.”).  Apparently, a proliferation of poppies grew on that battlefield around the soldiers’ graves.  These poppies were featured in a famous poem by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae called “In Flanders Fields.”  This poem caught peoples’ imagination and popularized the custom.

  1. Sporting Events.

No American holiday celebration would be complete without a sports connection. MD weekend features the Indianapolis 500 and the Memorial golf tournament, among others.  Also, until recently there was the traditional Memorial Day baseball doubleheader.  Alas, due to economics, scheduled holiday baseball doubleheaders are all but extinct.  Many sports activities that were cancelled or muted last ear due to COVID restrictions have been reinstated. I suggest you research events in your area.

CONCLUSION

I hope the foregoing has increased your understanding and appreciation of MD.  As a veteran, myself, I find it most gratifying that, in recent years, most Americans have come to recognize and appreciate the service and sacrifice of our country’s veterans.  I can remember a time (the Vietnam War period) when it wasn’t so.

So, whatever you do this weekend, however you celebrate, try to pause for a moment in honor of the many veterans who have given their lives so that the rest of us could enjoy the freedoms we sometimes take for granted.

THE SCOURGE OF ANTI-SEMITISM

In the last few days we have seen disturbing incidents of anti-Semitism daily. Anti-Semitic rioters have been attacking Jews on the street, in restaurants, at business, virtually anywhere and everywhere with no provocation. People have been accosted even if they “looked” Jewish or “acted” Jewish. Some politicians and those in the media have coined a new term to describe this – “visibly Jewish.” What does that even mean?! I suppose if one dresses, acts, or looks like a bigot’s preconception of a Jewish person or lives in a certain neighborhood they are “fair game.” Talk about racial stereotypes! These incidents have been occurring not just in the US but also all over the world.

In the course of researching for this blog I came across one of several websites that track such incidents worldwide. My plan was to feature a few of them as representative examples. I was astounded by the sheer volume of incidents, which required me to revise my plan. It would take a book to discuss all of them. For instance, one of the aforementioned websites called the “Anti-Semitism Monitor” listed hundreds of examples, just in 2021. Moreover, these were not limited to the usual suspect countries, such as Germany, France, or Middle Eastern or predominantly Muslim countries. The website listed many examples in virtually every country, even the US, and not just one or two, but every few days. Most of these incidents “fly under the radar.” Only those that are sufficiently heinous or involve a famous person, such as Tlaib’s inane characterization of Israel as a “racist state,” are reported by the general media.

As we know, anti-Semitism is not new. It is virtually as old as the world, itself. It has always existed, and I believe it always will. Sometimes, it is covert; sometimes, it is overt. But, it is always there, bubbling just below the surface hidden from view, like an inactive volcano. Historically, occasionally, something, such as a war, natural disaster, plague, or economic recession, has occurred to set it off, bring it out into the open. Relatively recent examples of this include, the Spanish Inquisition, the pogroms of Russia, Poland and other Central and Eastern Europe countries, and the rise of Nazi Germany. Jews have always made a handy scapegoat. In fact, some historians have cited the need of a scapegoat as the reason why some rulers tolerated them in the first place. (A bad harvest? Don’t blame me. It’s the Jews.)

It is human nature to distrust and dislike those who are different, and Jews have always been different. Not better or worse, just different. Different religion, different God, different holidays, different customs. I recall an incident in which a woman asked a Jewish acquaintance if she could feel her hair. Why? Well, to feel her horns, of course. This is shocking, but even more so because the incident occurred, not in a third-world country, not in the Middle Ages, but in the 1960s at a college in the US.

So what is happening now to bring anti-Semitism out into the open? Glad you asked. I believe the major factors are as follows:

  1. The conflict in the Middle East between Hamas and Israel.
  2. The anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic bias in the news media.
  3. The overt anti-Semitism exhibited by prominent politicians such as Cortez, Tlaib, and others.
  4. The failure of moderates to speak out against the violence.
  5. The failure of President Biden to exhibit strong leadership. More on that below.

CONCLUSION

This is exactly the time when Biden, as President, needs to exhibit strong, forceful, unequivocal support for Israel. He needs to condemn, in the strongest possible way, anti-Israeli and anti-Semitism actions. The weak, wishy-washy actions he has taken so far have been pathetically inadequate. Hamas and Israel are not equal in this matter or in any other respect. Putting it as bluntly as I can, Hamas is a terrorist organization, pure and simple. They are not seeking to improve the lives of their supporters. They want to destroy, destroy, destroy. They are an ally of Iran, which is the nexus of all violence in the region. They are supported by Russia and China who are not our friends.

Israel is our staunchest ally in the region, the only one we can, have been and will be able to depend on for support. Hamas has been the aggressor. Israel has been defending itself. Hamas does not want peace; they have consistently denied Israel’s very right to exist. Israel is seeking peaceful co-existence. Hamas fighters launch their missiles from schools, places of worship, and other “civilian” venues in hopes that a counterattack will result in casualties that evoke sympathy. Israel tries its best to avoid civilian casualties. Let’s face it. Israel has shown great restraint. If they wanted to they could wipe out Hamas in hours.

Biden needs to exhibit strong leadership domestically by reining in the far left, anti-Semitic members of the Dem Party and his own White House staff. He needs to tell them in no uncertain words to tone down the rhetoric. His failure to do so serves no purpose except to embolden those who harbor anti-Semitic attitudes and incite violence. In my opinion, his failure to act is directly responsible for the current rash of anti-Semitic attacks we are now seeing. They will not stop until he speaks out.

All that said, I believe his failure to act decisively in this matter is wholly consistent with his other actions and non-actions as president as I described in my most recent blog. I wonder when Biden voters, particularly moderate Hispanics, Blacks and Jews, will realize they were “duped.” The moderate Joe Biden they thought they were voting for is long gone.

I hope the country we know and love can survive until 2024.

BIDEN’S TRUE COLORS COME TO THE FORE

I tried. I really, really tried. After the illogical and inexplicable results of the 2020 presidential election and the Georgia Senate run-offs I needed a break from politics for the sake of my own sanity. I just could not fathom how and why Americans would essentially vote for their own demise. I resolved to take a break from writing about politics and current events.

I held out for four months, but recent events dictate that I remain silent no longer. Thus far, in my opinion, President Biden and his advisors and allies have accomplished what seemed improbable, if not impossible. Those of us who had been paying attention and who were getting their news from Fox as opposed to the fake news channels and publications (We all know who they are.) knew what they planned to do (They brazenly told us.), but the speed and efficiency with which they have acted has been stunning. In little more than four months the Biden Administration has managed to (1) erase virtually all of President Trump’s accomplishments, (2) destroy our southern border, (3) leave us vulnerable to COVID, drugs and terrorists, (4) create and foster an unholy alliance with the drug cartels and human traffickers, (5) lay the groundwork for a deep recession, (6) severely damage our fossil fuel industry and eliminate our energy independence, which took some 75 years to achieve, (7) eliminate tens of thousands of middle class and working class jobs, (8) placate and embolden our enemies, and (8) most egregious of all, sell out Israel. That, my friends is quite a list of accomplishments, and they are not done yet.

Below please find the highlights (or rather, lowlights):

  1. On Day 1 Biden signed a flurry of Executive Orders, one of which eliminated the Keystone Pipeline. Not only was the KP providing thousands of good paying jobs for middle class and working class people it also was a key element in enabling the US to achieve its long-desired goal of energy independence. With the stroke of a pen Biden executed the double play of destroying thousands of workers’ livelihoods and returning us to dependency for oil on our enemies.
  2. Shortly thereafter, Biden halted construction of the southern border wall. I have written many blogs on the merits of the wall, so there is no need to rehash them here. Suffice to say that action has resulted in a flood of illegal migrants entering the US. Yes, some of them may be legitimately deserving of asylum, but many of them are criminals, drug mules, terrorists, and/or carriers of the COVID virus. The point is we don’t know who they are, where they are from, and their intentions. We have no control over the situation. We don’t have the foggiest idea of how many there are or where most of them are living currently. What we do know intuitively is that they are and will continue to overwhelm our economic and social resources.
  3. The COVID relief payments have been excessive and most of the funds distributed have nothing to do with COVID. Rather, their purpose has been to satisfy a far left wish list. The feds are basically just printing money. In some cases they have actually disincentivized people from returning to work. Many employers have been complaining of an inability to find workers. Anyone with a basic knowledge of economics knows that the end result will likely be dangerous inflation.
  4. However, Biden’s worst action, by far, and the major reason why I can no longer remain silent, has been his attitude toward Israel. Israel has been subjected to a sustained barrage of rocket attacks by Hamas and other terrorists. Of course, it has defended itself by repelling these attacks and launching retaliatory attacks of its own for which it has been sharply criticized by its critics, haters and most of the media. I believe that this criticism is fueled by irrational anti-Semitism, not logic, fairness or common sense. Ask yourself how you would feel if our enemies were lobbing missiles into your home town? We don’t have to guess. We know. Read up on the Cuban missile crisis of 1962. The US went “ballistic” (pun intended). How about a couple of years ago when North Korea fired test rockets near Japan?Biden’s weak, wishy-washy response is appalling. The two combatants are NOT equal. We all know that Hamas is nothing more than a terrorist organization that has sworn to kill all Jews. On the other hand, Israel has been and continues to be our staunchest ally in the region. Rather than vigorously defend Israel as President Trump and other previous presidents did, Biden has issued statements that “Israel has a right to defend itself,” and urging both sides to “tamp down.” Thanks Joe, but Israel does not need your blessing to do so. It is fully capable of doing so on its own. Even worse, it is the Biden Administration’s policy of restoring funding to Hamas, reviving the Iran nuclear deal, and lifting the sanctions against Iran that have enabled Hamas to arm itself and buy the weaponry to launch these attacks. Over the past several years Iran has been and continues to be the nexus of all instability in the region. Biden’s actions will, in my view, enable them to achieve nuclear capability sooner rather than later. When and if that happens, look out!

CONCLUSION

To me, Biden’s Middle East policy underscores the blatant anti-Semitism of his administration. I’m not sure if Biden, personally, is anti-Semitic, although he has, in the past, exhibited racist attitudes. For example, he had a close relationship with senior “Klu-Kluxer,” Senator Robert Byrd, whom he characterized as his “mentor” and whom he eulogized at his funeral. Furthermore, as a Senator he maintained a close working relationship with known white supremacist politicians, such as George Wallace, Lester Maddox, James Eastland, Strom Thurmond, and Byrd. Even VP Kamala Harris referred to him as a “racist” during the primary campaign.

However, there is no doubt that he has surrounded himself with and is being influenced by persons who have expressed anti-Semitic and racist views, such as Paul Nakasone, head of the NSA, Bernie Sanders and Representatives Tlaib, Omar, Cortez and Pressley, who have characterized the Palestinians as “victims” whereas they have been the aggressors. At the very least he has not “stood up” to these radicals and has allowed himself to be influenced by their radical beliefs.

Biden’s “America last” policy has not been friendly to Israel. It should serve as a reminder that although the US and Israel are and have been strong allies with mostly common interests the US’s support is not necessarily absolute and permanent. The history of the Jews is replete with examples of governments that were friendly and supportive for hundreds of years until, one day, they were not. Jewish voters: if you care about Israel and you should, remember this at the ballot box. The Dems have been taking Jewish voters for granted for years.

Incidentally, where are the so-called “moderate” politicians and leaders? Why haven’t they spoken out?

Finally, multiple news sources have reported that Israel and Hamas have agreed to a cease-fire. That’s a great first step, but I don’t think that is a permanent, lasting solution. Moreover, it doesn’t change my analysis of the situation. The underlying issues remain unresolved. Hamas and other Arab terrorists in the area still hate the Jews with a passion. This hatred goes back thousands of years. They still want them wiped out. Nothing less will satisfy them. They sense that Biden is weak, and the US’s support for Israel has softened and will remain so as long as he is president. Moderate Arabs are still afraid to speak out.

The question is how long will it last and how long to the next incident. History tells us it is coming. The only questions are (1) when, (2) what form will it take, and (3) will the US “step up” and defend Israel more vigorously.

MOTHER’S DAY

Yesterday, Sunday, May 9, most Americans celebrated Mother’s Day.  MD is celebrated all over the world in some form.  Different countries have their own way of celebrating the day and even celebrate it on different dates.  Some countries have replicated the US traditions – hallmark [or email (tacky)] card, flowers, chocolates, and family gatherings; others have incorporated it into other holidays honoring women or mothers; and in still others, a combination of the two has evolved.

Restauranteurs claim that MD is normally their busiest day of the year.  Due to COVID last year was an exception as most states placed restrictions on dining out. This year, restauranteurs expected a substantial boost in business. The prevailing attitude in 2021 seems to be more upbeat. In the US over 100 million people have had at least the first COVID vaccination, and infections, hospitalizations and fatalities are down substantially in most areas. Consequently, more people were planning to return to the traditional custom of giving mom a break from kitchen duties and taking her out to a nice restaurant to celebrate. And why not? Doesn’t she deserve it? (On the other hand, on Father’s Day the restaurants are relatively empty as many fathers are put to work barbecuing.) Interestingly, many florists have reported a shortage of flowers, so procrastinating husbands may have to substitute other gifts.

In the US MD was first celebrated in 1908 when a lady named Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother.  Ms. Jarvis had been campaigning for the country to recognize a day to honor mothers since 1905 when her mother had passed away.  In 1914 President Woodrow Wilson signed an official proclamation establishing the second Sunday in May as MD.  It was to be a day to honor mothers and the concept of motherhood and their contributions to society.

Eventually, Ms. Jarvis became disillusioned with the commercialization of the holiday.  By the 1920’s the greeting card, retail, candy and flower industries were marketing their products aggressively to take advantage of the holiday.  Jarvis strongly advocated that people should demonstrate their love and respect for their mothers through personalized, handwritten letters instead.  Being a person of action she organized protests and threatened boycotts of these industries.  At one point, she was arrested for disturbing the peace at a candy manufacturers’ convention.

Despite her efforts, commercialization of the day has continued to grow.  Americans, in particular, tend to demonstrate their love in tangible, material ways through the giving of gifts.  Today, MD is one of the biggest days for the sale of flowers, candy and greeting cards.  Normally, the amount of the average MD gift and the total spent increases every year.  According to the National Retailers Federation Americans will spend an average of $220 on their mothers for the holiday, a slight increase over last year. Furthermore, the NRF predicts they will spend some $28 billion in total. In addition, MD is the third-biggest day for church attendance behind Christmas Eve and Easter.

As I stated, MD is celebrated in many countries in different ways and at different dates. For example:

1. The most common date is the second Sunday in May, which was May 9 this year. Besides the US, some of the countries that celebrate it on this date are Canada, Italy the Peoples Republic of China and Turkey.

2. Some countries, such as the UK, Ireland and Nigeria, celebrate it on the fourth Sunday of Lent. The UK incorporated it into a previously existing holiday called “Mothering Sunday.”  ”Mothering Sunday” dates from the 16th Century.

3. Many Arab countries, such as Egypt, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia celebrate it on the vernal equinox (March 20 in 2020).

4. Russia used to celebrate MD on March 8 in conjunction with International Women’s Day, but in 1998 the date was changed, by law, to the last Sunday in November.

5. Bolivia celebrates it on May 27, which is the date of an historically significant battle in which women played a key role.

6. Since 1950 France has celebrated MD on the fourth Sunday in May, except when the date conflicts with Pentecost in which case it is delayed to the next Sunday.

7. Hindus celebrate MD on the new moon day in the month of Baisakh (April/May).

CONCLUSION

Some of you may have noted that I spelled MD as Mother’s Day. This was not an error. The official holiday is spelled in the singular tense. According to Ms. Jarvis the day is intended to honor “the best mother who ever lived, yours.”

As I said, MD is one of the few truly internationally-recognized holidays.  One of the charming features of the day is the variety of ways and dates on which it is celebrated.  This is derived from the differences in customs and cultures around the world.

One thing is certain now and will remain so prospectively: on this day the mother/wife is truly in charge.  Men, remember the adage “happy wife, happy life.”

Finally, men, all together now, let’s repeat the two-word mantra for a successful marriage:

“YES, DEAR!”

CINCO DE MAYO

Today, and every year on this date, we celebrate Cinco de Mayo. It is meant to be a festive occasion. In America, even non-Mexicans join in the fun. After all, who does not enjoy a party? Who does not want to eat and drink at a discount? Every year on May 5, many of us eat tacos and enchiladas and drink tequila and margaritas and dress in Mexican garb in celebration of Cinco de Mayo.  Anyone care for a “dirty taco?” In addition, many restaurants are offering special deals on this date to attract customers. For example, Chili’s is offering margaritas for $5.00, and Applebee’s, which is certainly not a Mexican restaurant, is offering specialized drinks, such as “Dal-A-Ritas” and “Tipsy Sharks” for $5.00.

Typically, most Americans have no idea of the significance of the holiday. They may assume that it is some religious festival or has something to do with Mexico’s independence from Spain. That would be wrong and wrong.

In 1861 France invaded Mexico. Napoleon III, the ruler of France at the time, correctly perceived that Mexico was “ripe for the picking.”  The Mexican-American War of 1846-48 had virtually bankrupted the country.  The US was distracted by its impending Civil War and thus, unable to oppose France in Mexico.  The other European powers, notably Spain and England, were not in the picture.

At first, the French, with their superior numbers, equipment and training, routed the Mexicans, but on May 5, 1862 the Mexicans surprisingly defeated the French decisively in a major battle near Puebla, halting their advance.  The Civil War ended in 1865, and, thereafter, the US was able to assist Mexico.  Eventually, the French needed their military assets at home to prepare to fight the Prussians [in the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71)], so they abandoned their plans to conquer Mexico and withdrew.

The battle at Puebla was significant for several reasons:

1. Though largely symbolic, this victory gave the Mexicans a much-needed infusion of patriotism and national pride.

2. Since then, no country in the Americas has been invaded successfully by a European country.

3. Most importantly for the US, many historians believe that France’s ultimate goal was to enable the South to break away from the North.  Mexico could have been used as a military base from which France could have funneled men and equipment to the Confederacy.  If they had not been defeated at Puebla, who knows how far north their army would have pushed and who knows what military and political pressure they would have brought to bear against the US.  It’s possible France could have ended up dominating the entire West Coast of present-day US.  Consequently, it can be posited that that victory helped preserve the Union.

Cinco de Mayo is celebrated not only in Mexico, but also in many other countries. Cities in the US, Canada, the Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Australia, New Zealand and Japan hold festivals featuring Mexican music, food and drink and celebrating Mexican culture.

Technically, Cinco de Mayo, though recognized as a day of celebration throughout Mexico, is not a national holiday, although it is a holiday in the State of Puebla. Throughout the country, the public schools are closed and many towns hold parades or re-enactments of the battle of Puebla. It should be noted that Cinco de Mayo is NOT to be confused with Mexican Independence Day, which is September 16.

Additionally, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in many areas of the US, particularly in locales where there is a sizeable Mexican population, such as Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. Events include parades, festivals, mariachi bands, and parties. COVID fears may put a damper on celebrations in some areas but how much and to what extent remains to be seen. Many Americans are sick of being confined and may just want an excuse to “bust loose.”

CONCLUSION

Cinco de Mayo is supposed to be a joyous holiday, as it celebrates an heroic occasion. Many non-Mexicans also get into the spirit of the holiday and participate in the above celebrations. They dress in Mexican clothing, such as ponchos and sombreros, participate in parades, and patronize Mexican restaurants.  In recent years, some so-called “pc police” have objected to this, calling it mocking a culture and even racist (their favorite fallback criticism).  For example, various “woke” communities and universities have placed restrictions or outright bans on celebrations. Moreover, some colleges have gone so far as to ban using the name “Cinco de Mayo.”

Personally, I find these restrictive actions offensive and a violation of the First Amendment.  It’s not as if the celebrants are painting offensive sayings or publishing mocking cartoons. Wearing ponchos and sombreros and dancing the “Mexican Hat Dance” do not rise to the level of, say, anti-Semitic scribblings on walls, burning a cross on a lawn, or fire-bombing places of worship.  THOSE are offensive, or worse.  This merely strikes me as getting into the holiday spirit, not being mean-spirited.

Once again, the majority is being subjected to the tyranny of the vocal minority. Remember, approximately 80% of the tweets are posted by only 10% of the people, so don’t be fooled by the vocal minority. As an aside, I have to say that in my youth we would have dealt with the pc crowd differently. Rather than kowtow, we would have made it point to parade down main street wearing sombreros and ponchos, drinking tequila and dancing the Mexican hat dance. Times have sure changed, and not necessarily for the better.

As I delineated above, Cinco de Mayo is a great source of pride for people of Mexican descent, as well it should be.  It commemorates a significant military victory over a better-equipped, numerically superior force.  The victory held historical significance not only for Mexico but for the US as well and should be commemorated.