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As you already know, Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican victory over the French in the Battle of Puebla on May 5th, 1862. A lot of people think that the holiday is Mexico's Independence Day, which of course, it is not - think of this as your chance to educate the next generation about the real history behind the holiday. It is a great starting off point to teach your class some lesser known facts about the US Civil War in your Cinco de Mayo lesson plans. Your students may be intrigued to know that the 5th of May was the beginning of Mexico's resistance to France's invasion; resistance which kept Napoleon III's army too busy to assist the breakaway southern states in the Civil War, with whom France was allied. The US repaid the favor following the Union victory in the Civil War, putting a naval blockade in place to prevent the French from resupplying their troops or sending reinforcements as well as sending armaments and other supplies to our allies south of the border. Cinco de Mayo is in many ways a celebration of Mexico and the contributions that Mexican-Americans have made to our own culture, at least for those of us in the United States; and including some of these facts in your Cinco de Mayo lesson plans can add some educational value to this fun and festive day. Written by Mat Raya. Courtesy of