Cinco de Mayo draws revelers
Everyone loves a party, and the celebration of Cinco de Mayo has captured the imaginations of Americans if not all of Mexico.
Cinco de Mayo celebrates the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, when Mexican forces under General Ignacio Zaragoza won a dramatic victory over Napoleon III’s French Army. The forces of Napoleon III foolishly marched 6,000 soldiers from the coast toward Mexico City. The route took them to the city of Puebla de Zaragoza, where the French general ordered a direct assault up a steep hill. But the Mexican army had fortified the hill with a ditch and brick wall, and with a force of just 2,000 soldiers, killed 1,000 French soldiers and forced the surviving French troops to retreat. The French returned in 1863 and took Puebla, but in 1867, the Mexican army retook the city and ended European domination of Mexico.
The battles were historically significant, but Cinco de Mayo is mainly celebrated in the state of Puebla today.
Meanwhile, in the U.S., Cinco de Mayo is usually expanded to two days and may include parties, parades, and plenty of decorated bars.
Memorial Day: the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Memorial Day is a day of remembrance, honoring all who have died in service to the United States. It takes place annually on the last Monday in May and includes commemorative traditions like services, parades, speeches, and flag ceremonies. Thousands of people choose to observe the day by visiting the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a neoclassical, white marble sarcophagus, stands atop a hill overlooking Washington, D.C. It’s located in Arlington National Cemetery, the final resting place for numerous presidents, Supreme Court justices, astronauts, and other public servants, including more than 400,000 military personnel, veterans, and their immediate families.
The Tomb began as a resting place for one unknown service member from World War I, and today it’s the grave of three unidentified service members. It serves as a symbolic grave for all fallen service members whose remains haven’t been found or identified. It also serves as a place of mourning and a site for reflection on military service.
A sentinel has been on duty in front of the Tomb every minute of every day since 1937, ensuring the Unknown Soldiers forever rest with dignity and honor.
On Memorial Day, a national ceremony is held at the Tomb with nearly 5,000 people in attendance. The president typically delivers an address. The ceremony is free and open to the public.
This Memorial Day, look for a service in your area to pay your respects to service members who have fought and died while serving the United States of America.
Memorial Day: The most dramatic salute
Few tributes are as moving as the traditional flyover at a military funeral or important public event. The flyover is even more dramatic when one aircraft zooms out of formation in the Missing Man Salute.
The missing man formation evolved from early flyovers. The first non-military flyover was in 1936 for King George V. The first U.S. flyover was in 1938, when 50 aircraft honored Major General Oscar Westover, flying with one empty space. By the end of World War II, the formation included the pull-up, when one plane flies out of formation, sometimes to the setting sun.
The formation is usually flown by four to six aircraft in a V formation. The flight leader is at the point of the arrowhead. As the formation approaches the gravesite or ceremonial area, the wingman following to the leader’s right leaves the formation in a spectacular pull-up, suggesting the hero’s soul going up to God.
The U.S. Navy Blue Angels are famous for their dramatic flyovers, including their missing man formations.
Interesting Things to Know
How the poppy came to symbolize the fallen
It began with the stark reality. After World War I, in fields and towns throughout Europe, poppies began growing everywhere.
Scientists said the growth on the battlefields was because former battlefields had become enriched with lime from the rubble left by the war.
But it was the poet, Lt Colonel John McCrae, who saw the poppies as a memorial to the bloodshed in a war that shattered Europe.
In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row.
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
Today, in the U.S., the poppy is distributed by The American Legion for donations to support veterans and active-duty military personnel. Poppy Day is May 26, the Friday before Memorial Day.
Great ideas for celebrating Mother’s Day
This year, families will celebrate Mother’s Day on May 14. Many children will surprise Mom with their finest drawings and a few kind words about how much they love her. Husbands will celebrate the occasion with flowers and a special gift, such as jewelry or perfume.
If you are having trouble coming up with ideas for a Mother’s Day gift, take some time to look at the things that surround Mom. Chances are you’ll soon notice the things she likes. Does she use her few spare moments to take a bubble bath with aromatic oils? Does she collect teddy bears? Does she read book after book? Does she wear silk scarves? Does she pay careful attention to her make-up and manicure? Does she play a sport? A few minutes of careful observation will reveal a lot about the type of gift she would appreciate.
For the person who devotes her daily life to her children, this is the day to show Mom your love and appreciation. A family celebration is probably the best gift that you can give her.
You can celebrate Mother’s Day away from home by planning a picnic at a local park or enjoying a hassle-free meal at a favorite restaurant. You can also plan a small party at home to celebrate Mom’s special day. You can make a special meal and take care of all of Mom’s chores. You can also add to the festivity by decorating the house with balloons and ribbons. But most of all, what Mom will probably appreciate the most is being surrounded by the people she loves.
Mother’s Day: Stranded in a pea field, a mother became an icon
It was 1936, and one mother sat worrying in a makeshift tent at the edge of a California pea field. She had seven hungry children, a broken-down car, no place to stay, and no work.
Her situation was similar to 2,500 other people who came to work in the same fields, but those fields of peas had just been ruined by freezing rain. Now there was no work and no food.
But there was one important difference. Dorothea Lange, a photographer working for the U.S. government, took a photo of her that day — the most famous photo ever taken of the Great Depression. She called it Migrant Mother.
Although that one photo made Lange famous, it did nothing for Florence Owens Thompson, then 32. She had been on a long hard road. She had six children when her first husband, Cleo Owens, died five years before. After his death, she met Jim Hill, and by the time she arrived at that pea field, she had a seventh child.
Thompson didn’t know it then, but she left that pea field an icon of a painful era. While she did know about the famous image, she remained anonymous for 40 years. In the late 1970s, a reporter tracked her down. She wasn’t pleased with the fame that brought her no money when she needed it.
But her life had changed. She had picked cotton, tended bar, cooked, worked in fields — everything to support her family, now grown to nine children. She had married again to a hospital administrator, George Thompson, and the family became financially secure.
In the end, the famous photo helped to raise donations for her medical care before her death in 1983. Her grave marker reads FLORENCE LEONA THOMPSON, Migrant Mother – A Legend of the Strength of American Motherhood.
Interesting Things to Know
May is Motorcycle Safety Month – Save a life: Be aware of motorcycles
Spring is in the air, and more motorcyclists than ever are on the road. But highway crashes continue to claim the lives of about 5,000 motorcyclists every year.
Collisions involving motorcycles lead to injury and death approximately 80 percent of the time, according to Ride Safe.
For motorcyclists, staying sober is the key to staying safe. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), about 30 percent of bikers involved in a fatal crash had alcohol in their system.
For drivers, the key to avoiding a horrific collision with a motorcyclist is to stay aware.
That’s easier said than done because while drivers are often aware of other cars, they might see a motorcycle but not remain aware.
Among the types of accidents:
- Car doors: Most states have dooring laws. These laws make it the responsibility of the car driver to look for oncoming traffic before opening the car door. If you open your car door into bicycle or motorcycle traffic, you can set up a potentially fatal accident. There is no way bikers, or even pedestrians, can get out of the way in time.
- Lane switching: When cars change lanes in traffic, motorcyclists are at their most vulnerable. Blind spots in cars make it difficult to see a narrow motorcycle. Motorcyclists have to be keenly aware of this danger, and drivers do too. A quick glance in the mirror might not tell you everything you need to know about traffic.
- Intersections: One of the most deadly locations for car-motorcycle collisions, these accidents usually involve failure to yield the right of way to a motorcycle.
In addition, motorcyclists have a responsibility to ride safely. They should keep weather conditions in mind. Riding in a rainstorm is dangerous, and riding with lightning can be fatal.
Motorcyclists should also keep road conditions in mind. Construction, road debris, cracks, and uneven pavement all cause accidents.
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