On This Date in History: Alan Shepherd became the first American in space on this date in 1961. The flight lasted about 15 minutes. Basically it was like shooting a big cannon shot. It went up in Florida and come down in the Atlantic
Ocean…up and down. Yuri Gagarin was the first man in space. A few weeks before Shepherd’s flight on April 12, 1961 the Soviet Gagarin not only became the first man in space, he also was the first to orbit the earth. John Glenn didn’t become the first American to orbit the earth until February 20, 1962. He was the third American in space. I worked at a TV station that once said John Glenn was the 1st man in space. When it was pointed out that he wasn’t even the first American in space, the news director responded “well, they knew what we meant.” Don’t trust everything you hear on TV and take it as gospel.
Now…Cinco de Mayo, if you know Spanish, means simply May 5. It has been a celebration of Mexican-Americans in the Southwestern states for years. More recently, it’s popularity has spread to other parts of the country. Most Americans think that Cinco de Mayo is sorta a Mexican Fourth of July…their Independence Day.
Wrong. Mexican Independence Day is in September.
Did you know that it’s not even an official holiday in Mexico? In the state of Puebla, it’s a day to take off but in much of the rest of the country, its voluntary. It is a day commemorating the victory of the Mexican army over the French at the Battle of Puebla on this date in 1862. That’s fine but it was not a decisive victory. The French shortly thereafter took over Mexico and ruled the nation until 1867 when Maximilian and the French were expelled.
So…what’ the big deal? Well, remember that California had been under Mexican control until they ceded it to the United States as outlined in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. That treaty was what officially ended the Mexican War in the 1848 and under the terms the US aquired just about all of the Soutwestern quadrant of what is now the United States in exchange for $15 million. At that time, there were 80,000 Mexicans living in California.
Well, 15 years later in 1863, the Mexicans living in California wanted to have a demonstration of solidarity with their fellow citizens in Mexico who were resisting the French. So, the chose the 5th of May, since it was a day of victory over the French. That means the origins of the day are really found in the United States and not in Mexico at all, which is probably why it’s not a Mexican holiday.
Today, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in parts of the US like St. Patrick’s Day and Oktoberfest. In other words it’s largely an invention of the Americans and is an excuse for people to party down and claim they are celebrating without really knowing what it is they are supposed to be celebrating or the reason. However, if you challenge them and explain the origins of the day, they will simply say “well…that’s not why I celebrate, I’m celebrating my heritage!” and then they continue on doing whatever it is they are doing. So, go ahead and continue to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. But if you tell people at your party that it’s not Mexican Independence Day and tell them about he Battle of Puebla, then you may get a free drink or who knows what else.
Weather Bottom Line: The 00z Tue NAM and the 18z Mon GFS vertical profile indecies indicate that Wednesday event will be rain with t’storms. Even on the GFS, the severe parameters are not overly impressive but do indicate potential for some decent storms with rain totals between a half and a full inch of rain. The next round is showing up early Friday morning and both models suggest perhaps a better opportunity for strong storms, but if its in the predawn hours, it may be a bit more difficult than if it were in the afternoon or evening. I’ll have more as it unfolds. There will probably be some sunshine on Tuesday for the first time in days…or at least some high clouds dulling the sun…but thats better than what we’ve seen and the temps should get to the low to maybe mid 70′s.