Wearing colorful serapes, shaking maracas and waving Mexican flags, 200 students at Richman Elementary School in Fullerton danced, sang and performed a play Wednesday to tell the Cinco de Mayo story.
"La batalla de Puebla fue ganada el cinco de Mayo de 1862 (The battle of Puebla was won on May 5, 1862)," 8-year-old Mirella Diaz told an audience at the Fullerton Farmers Market during a play presented by her classmates. "Las fuerzas Francesas eran superiores en hombres y armamentos, pero las fuerzas Mexicanas eran superiores en espiritu y valor (The French army was superior in numbers and artillery, but the Mexican troops were superior in spirit and courage)."
An underdog Mexican army claimed victory that day, which is being remembered by many people throughout the county as a lesson in pride and determination.
"It shows what people can do based on ideals, principle and vision for a new future where everybody is equal regardless of economic and social class," said Arturo D. Montez, president of the Santa Ana League of United Latin American Citizens. "Regardless if you're barefoot and poor or intellectual and enlightened . . . (Cinco de Mayo) re-establishes hope in democracy."
Added Fullerton attorney Frederick P. Aguirre: "Here was an ill-equipped, ragtag-type army of Mexican patriots fighting against the world's best\o7 -\f7 armed, best\o7 -\f7 trained forces during the 1860s, and they were able to overcome those great odds. . . . That means that the underdog, through hard work, discipline and tenaciousness, can overcome his or her (odds) and become successful."
The day has become a major celebration in Southern California even though it commemorates a historical event not as important as Mexican Independence Day, which is Sept. 16. Several Orange County schools, colleges, universities, cities and community groups are planning festivities to commemorate the Mexican holiday.