Monday, September 15, 2014

September 16 just doesn’t have the same ring as Cinco de Mayo

For those of you who still haven’t figured it out yet, Monday night into Tuesday are the real dates of the holiday you thought you celebrated (mainly by consuming too many Coronas or cut-rate margaritas) back on May 5.


Those are the dates back in 1810 when Father Hidalgo climbed to the top of his church, rang his bell at midnight, and proclaimed a statement of independence from Spain that is as significant in Mexican history as the Declaration of Independence is to the story of the United States because of the way it inspired the people to take up arms against their colonial masters.


OF COURSE, IT wasn’t immediate freedom. It took some 12 years before the Spanish royal family acknowledged independence for the most significant of the American colonies that comprised “New Spain.”


By comparison, the British royal family virtually bent over backward to give the fledgling United States its freedom and sense of itself as a new nation on this planet.


If anything, I often wonder if the history of Mexico and its attempts to establish itself as a Democracy are a perfect example of the old saying, “If something can go wrong, it likely will.”


Mexico has had to do many things the hard way during its two centuries of existence. It ought to make those of us of the United States more thankful for the relatively easier path we have traversed to get where we are today.


I FEEL THE need to think about this because I’m sure most people not only don’t give it a thought, they’re not even aware it is something they ought to consider relevant.


But our two nations are so intertwined in so many ways, and not just because of those Southwestern states that once were the northernmost outposts of the Spanish colonies/Mexico itself. If anything, I wonder if the exception to our nation are those far northeastern states who have a significant international border with Canada.


Which is why I’m not particularly interested in hearing from those people who are going to complain about the many celebrations that took place in this country related to Mexico’s Independence Day.


In Chicago alone, I’m aware of two parades – in the South Chicago and Pilsen neighborhoods – along with various parades in outlying areas including Cicero, West Chicago and East Chicago, Ind.


THE SOUTH CHICAGO parade has been ongoing for more than 75 years, while the Pilsen parade is the one that has garnered the public attention.


Candidates for the Nov. 4 and Feb. 24 election cycles all felt compelled to show up and march through the one-time eastern European enclave that turned Mexican and now threatens to become a place for artsy people to live near downtown Chicago.


After all, those people vote. Both Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican challenger Bruce Rauner were there, along with mayoral hopefuls Karen Lewis and Bob Fioretti – with Mayor Rahm Emanuel making an appearance at an Independence Day breakfast event prior to the parade.


Although that threatens to trivialize the event, if it winds up that Mexico’s Independence Day becomes nothing more than a chance for political people to pander for the Latino vote.


BUT WITH ONE out of six Chicago residents being of Mexican ethnic origins, this becomes too big of an event to brush aside. Chicago is now just as significantly Mexican as it is Irish or Polish – the two other ethnicities that like to think they’re almighty and dominant in the city.


And yes, it’s a bit odd to have all these public celebrations on Sunday; a day early before the actual event – which could become an afterthought.


Except for those of us who are desperate to take what already has become a two-day celebration in Mexico (think Christmas the way some people just can’t wait until Day and feel the need to go all-out on Eve) and make it a three-day fest.



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