After participating in early Cinco de Mayo festivities last Sunday in Beaumont, U.S. Congressman Ted Poe today extends his best wishes to members of the Hispanic community in Southeast Texas as they celebrate this special holiday, which commemorates the 1862 Mexican victory at the Battle of Puebla.

On this day of celebration, let us recognize the unique heritage of our neighbors to the South and the contributions Americans of Mexican descent have made to the State of Texas. As the overall Hispanic population continues to grow in my Southeast Texas Congressional District and across the United States, I look forward to joining this dynamic community in many more celebrations of its diverse culture, Rep. Poe said.

With his longstanding passion for Texas history, Congressman Poe excitedly honors monumental dates in the Lone Stars vibrant past through remarks on the floor of the House of Representatives. Since entering Congress four months ago, Congressman Poe has eagerly educated his colleagues from other states about Texas Independence Day and the Battle of San Jacinto. As a wise man once said, there are two kinds of people those from Texas and those who wish they were from Texas!

Similarly, on the House floor today, Congressman Poe will deliver the following remarks to commemorate Cinco de Mayo:

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in honor of Cinco de Mayo. I rise to recognize and remember the importance of this day and to salute the millions of Mexicans and Americans of Mexican descent that will celebrate throughout the Americas on this day. On May 5, 1862, an undersized, inadequately armed band of Mexicans, determined to defend their land, fought a lopsided contest against their oppressors.

Many people assume that Cinco de Mayo is Mexicos Independence Day but they are incorrect. Mexicos actual independence day is September 16th, 1821. Forty years after the Mexicans achieved their independence from Spain, their country was conquered again this time by the French. In that year, Napoleon III sent a massive, martial military force to Mexico to unseat President Benito Juarez. Their plan was to overthrow Juarez and take over the country. They were confident in their powers. They even brought along a Hapsburg prince, Maximilian, to rule the new Mexican empire. They were also sorely mistaken.

Napoleons army had not been defeated in 50 years and it did not expect to lose this battle. The distinguished well-trained Army marched in with the finest equipment and the arrogance to go along with it. The French were not afraid of anything but they should have been. Little did they know that the Mexicans would give them a fight to remember.

On May 5, 1862, the French Army left the Port of Vera Cruz to attack Mexico City. They assumed that if they could take down the capitol, the Mexicans would give up. Under the command of Texas-born General Ignacio Seguin Zaragosa, the Mexicans awaited, determined, diligent, and dedicated to defending their land.

On May 5, 1862, cannons roared and rifle shots rang out. Before the day was over, one fort was in ruins and more than a thousand French soldiers were dead. Against all odds, the hastily assembled Mexicans had routed the French imperialism in the city of Puebla, despite being outnumbered 2-1.

Cinco de Mayo is a day of celebration in Mexico as well as the United States. In my home state of Texas, where there are over 6 million Americans of Mexican descent, there are numerous celebrations taking place all over the state and in border towns on this day. Cinco de Mayo is a wonderful opportunity to salute the contributions being made by all Hispanics in the Lone Star State and all of America. In my district, the second District of Texas, we have over 80,000 Hispanic members of the community. I feel fortunate to represent and live in a community that benefits from the dynamic presence of this lively culture.

So Mr. Speaker, I rise to join all Americans and all Mexicans in recognition of this important day in history. The Mexicans who fought and died on a battlefield near Puebla, 143 years ago, embodied the ideal of all humans, despite their race or status. Their determination embodied a spirit of freedom and patriotism. Cinco de Mayo is a chance for EVERYONE to remember how essential our freedom is, how difficult it is to attain, and how vigilant we must remain to defend it.