The Annual 5th of May Show

A few years back, Dave got into a rather frank (bordering on direct) conversation over whether or not ‘Mericans should care about, let alone celebrate Cinco de Mayo. So we delve into the archives and replay the Cinco de Mayo, May 5th Show, which deals with the French invasion of Mexico and the American Civil War. All of that ties together why the 5th of May should be as American and Mexican Holiday as any other. And also why tequila is so great!

The Original Version:

The 2018 Version:

I get it. People are always looking for a way to complain about Cinco de Mayo and how “un-‘Merican” the celebration is.

May the 5th is a day which could be celebrated as one of the most American days there is. From the Battle of Puebla, which traces its root cause to the Monroe Doctrine, to Alan B. Shepherd, hurtling into outer space as the first man to reach for the moon. And yes, I know that most of you believe that Yuri Gagarin was first, but how many of you know the reason the Soviets kept the details of his flight secret? Do you understand that it is the west, with its tradition of openness and taking chances that meant that Gagarin’s flight was conducted entirely in secret, while Shepherd was launched on live Television for the world to see?

On May 5, 1862, General McClellan had commenced his ill-fated and ultimately failed Peninsula Campaign. The idea was that by avoiding a direct land line to Richmond, the Confederates would surrender. On May 5th, McClellan hurled his troops at Williamsburg, a small colonial town where the first Virginia legislature had met, guarded by a Confederate General who was once an actor and a master of disguise and props. For days he had marched his limited and small number of troops in circles and had others cut down trees, carve them into the shape of cannons and place them on the defenses. Eventually, the Union overwhelmed the small defense, and proudly proclaimed a “victory over superior forces,” as McClellan himself termed it.

In Mexico, the French were marching in much the same manner towards Mexico City, again the presumption is that if they took the Capitol, the opponent would give up. At a small town named Puebla, the Mexicans gained a seemingly minor victory that merely delayed the French on their way north. But like Williamsburg, the battle provided a much-needed morale boost. It rallied Mexico to the fight and helped them to understand that they could beat the French.

And when you ask that most important question, the eyes really open up – Why were the French in Mexico in 1862 to begin with?

The answer is pretty simple – Empire.

The French saw an opportunity, with America engaged in its own Civil War, to take advantage of the situation and blow up the Monroe Doctrine. The Congress of the United States knew what was going on, and even sent a warning to the French that we were busy at the moment, but we don’t like what you’re up to. The presumption was and remains, that France, while technically neutral in the Civil War, would have preferred a Confederate victory in the war. And with the way the war went over the next year and two months, one has to see that a quick French victory in Mexico could have been big trouble for the Union.

And yet, a small army of Mexicans held off the French and delayed them. And convinced the Mexicans to continue the fight even after Mexico City fell. When Americans of Mexican descent living in California heard about the Battle and the victory, they fired their guns in the air to celebrate. And to this day in the area around the City of Puebla, the battle is celebrated.

But here in the US, the day has become a lightning rod of controversy. Is it an American drinking holiday or a Mexican culture day?

Neither. It is a day when Mexico helped the Union to win the Civil War. So why can’t we celebrate that with some Mexican music and tequila?


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About FTB1(SS)

Plausibly Live is the Official Podcast of The Dave Bowman Show. From 2007 to 2015, Dave was the host of KFIV’s “Afternoons Live” (Later “The Dave Bowman Show”) and the Central Valley’s go-to man for insightful and entertaining analysis of the day's news and events. In 2015, Dave left radio to raise his son and helped to launch the Podcast 99 network (, which features voices and topics from all around the area, the nation, and the world, on a variety of subjects. Re-launching his own show as a podcast, Dave continues his look at the world around him, now without the constraints of terrestrial radio, but still with his eclectic mix of history and common sense. The primary feature element of Plausibly Live is Constitution Thursday, which since 2010 has been a weekly look at the history and impact of the US Constitution. Dave is a US Navy Submariner, a radio talk show host, father, baseball fan, avid reader and a frustrated writer. He has a passion for books, theology, submarines, coffee, tequila, 1970’s music (especially funk!) and is a ToTaL Star Trek geek. Dave being promoted to FTB2(SS) in 1986. Dave being promoted to FTB2(SS) in 1986. He was born in Oklahoma, grew up in Colorado, graduated from Ogden High School (Class of ’81) in Ogden, UT, served for eleven years in the US Navy Submarine fleet, was a Naval Instructor and as a Ballistic Missile Fire Control Technician, he achieved the rank of FTB1(SS) through sorcery and favoritism, but would have been happy staying an FTB2(SS) for life. He was trained as a targeting specialist and Battle Stations Missile Fire Control Supervisor aboard USS Michigan SSBN-727(G) and was trained on two Fire Control Systems, the Mk 98 Mod 0 TRIDENT and the Mk 88 Mod 1 POSEIDON. Later he served as a part of the Fleet Combat Training Center Dam Neck Auxiliary Security Force, which sounds impressive but was really just bait for Seal Team 6 and any Iraqi terrorists who happened to land on the beach in Virginia. He later attended Seminary in Atlanta, GA, then served as a pastor for five years before realizing the massive error of his ways. He then worked in non-Profit management until 2006 when he was hired to do sports for a local talk radio show, eventually moving into the host position in September of 2007. In the fall of 2008, after years of questioning and study, Dave completed the process of conversion to Judaism. In 2009 Dave married Cami, and in 2010 they were blessed with their son, Benjamin, to go along with four daughters, one son-in-law and three grandchildren. In the summer of 2017, Dave and Cami relocated “back home” to Silverdale, WA, where Dave had been stationed when they first met in 1985. From September 2007 to January 2015 Dave was heard each weekday from 3pm to 6pm (Pacific) on Power Talk 1360AM & 1280 in Modesto & Stockton, CA. Today, you can hear his Podcast Show, Plausibly Live, on The Dave Bowman Show website or on The Podcast 99 Network Page.

Posted on May 5, 2016, in American, History and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Don Jackson

    Ain’t history grand!? 🙂
    Thanks, Dave.


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