Before you indulge in tacos, tamales, and plenty of cerveza, take a moment to appreciate the true meaning of Cinco de Mayo.
Cinco de Mayo is the most widely celebrated Mexican holiday in America―and one of the most mixed-up, often referred to incorrectly as Mexico's independence day. That doesn't crimp the parties that unfold from Los Angeles to San Antonio to Nueva York, of course.
However, knowing the real story behind Cinco de Mayo can help you enjoy the festivities a little more, just as recalling the underdog-American victory over Britain adds extra zing to our Fourth of July. Here's what really happened.
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Mexico began its struggle for freedom by declaring independence from Spain on September 16, 1810―some 50 years ahead of the conflict that would inspire today's fiestas. The intervening decades were rife with political turmoil. By 1861, the nation's coffers were so depleted that President Benito Juárez suspended payments to foreign debtors for two years. France's Napoleon III saw this default as his chance to claim assets by force, establish French colonies in Latin America, and curb the growing influence of the United States.
In 1862, on the fifth of May―cinco de mayo―Mexico defeated a French force at the Battle of Puebla, 100 miles east of Mexico City. Although the ragtag Mexican army was eventually conquered by a heavily reinforced French assault, the Batalla de Puebla came to represent Mexican unity and its willingness to defend against an imperialist state bent upon conquest. Ironically, though, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated far more zealously in the United States than in Mexico. It's largely because Mexican-Americans adopted the holiday and turned it into an event of such camaraderie that it has been increasingly popular with people of other backgrounds and cultures.
This American popularization of Cinco de Mayo may also be due, in large part, to the beautiful weather in early May. In September, when Mexico's real independence day falls, many people are preoccupied with football and the beginning of school. In May, on the other hand, the weather is pleasant and nature is in full bloom. Whether Mexican-American or Irish-American, people around the country find it the perfect time for parades, Mexican-style picnics in the park, and backyard outings.
Today marks the 154th anniversary of Cinco de Mayo, a bicultural celebration that has become synonymous with margaritas, cervezas (beer) and the occasional controversy. But we found most people don't know the real story behind this holiday.
So here are five facts that will probably surprise you about Cinco de Mayo:
1. It's not Mexico’s Independence Day: Cinco de Mayo commemorates the triumph of the Mexican army at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. This victory occurred over 50 years after Mexico’s Independence Day, which is celebrated on September 16.
“The significance of Cinco de Mayo is that it represents Mexican resistance to foreign intervention, it is a moment where Mexico as a young nation rallied to defend itself,” said Raul Ramos, Associate Professor of History at the University of Houston. “But it was not a struggle for independence. Instead it represented a struggle against imperialism.”
Ramos noted that prior to the first Cinco de Mayo, Mexico was a nation with strong regional differences, from the Pacific coast to Northern Mexico to the Yucatan. “The Battle of Puebla helped the country coalesce around the idea of a unified Mexican identity.”
2. Cinco de Mayo commemorates a military victory over France — not Spain. Why was Mexico at war with France? Because the Mexican government had defaulted on its foreign debt to several European countries, so France invaded our southern neighbor.
Napoleon III hoped to install a monarchy in Mexico (which he was able to do for a few years before Mexico ousted the French). “The French army was considered the best army in the world at the time, and they had not been defeated in decades,” Professor Margarita Sánchez of Wagner College told NBC News. “So this was a real David versus Goliath situation that inspired Mexicans at home and in the U.S.”
3. Cinco de Mayo is a bigger celebration in the U.S. than in Mexico. “Recent Mexican immigrants are often surprised at what a huge thing Cinco de Mayo has become here,” said Sánchez. “They do celebrate the holiday in Mexico, but it is only a big deal in Puebla.”
In fact, Los Angeles is host to what is routinely described as the largest Cinco de Mayo party in the world, a multiday event known as Fiesta Broadway. The scale of these festivities even dwarfs those in Puebla.
“It (Cinco de Mayo) started out as a cultural celebration, then became bigger and bigger,” said Sánchez. “And at some point it became very commercial with people taking advantage of the day to drink all the Coronas they can drink.”
The evolution of Cinco de Mayo can be seen as a metaphor for Mexican-American assimilation. The first American Cinco de Mayo celebrations date back to the 1860s, when Mexicans in California commemorated the victory. About a century later, Chicano activists rediscovered the holiday and embraced it as a symbol of ethnic pride.
In the 1980s and 1990s, corporations (especially the alcohol and restaurant industries) began promoting Cinco de Mayo as a way to reach Hispanic consumers and sell products like tequila and beer. So over time, this “foreign” holiday has become firmly ingrained in U.S. consciousness Cinco de Mayo received its own commemorative postage stamp in 1998 and is also customarily observed at the White House.
4. Cinco de Mayo has a connection to the U.S. Civil War. David Hayes-Bautista, Professor of Medicine and Director of the Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture at the University of California Los Angeles, has written that Cinco de Mayo is very much an American holiday.
His research shows that the celebration began among Mexicans in California in the mid-19th century. The Battle of Puebla, he explained, occurred at a time when the Confederacy was expanding into New Mexico and Arizona, getting closer to California (which was a free state).
“Back then, when Latinos here got the news that French were stopped at Puebla, it electrified the population, and propelled them to a new level of civic participation. Latinos joined the Union army and navy and some went back to Mexico to fight the French,” Hayes-Bautista told NBC News.
“For Mexicans in the U.S., the Civil War and the French invasion of Mexico were like one war with two fronts. They were concerned about France, which sided with the Confederacy, being on America’s doorstep.” Had the Battle of Puebla gone differently, there is a real chance that the Civil War might have gone differently.
5. The hero of the original Cinco de Mayo was a Texan. General Ignacio Zaragosa, who led the ragtag Mexican forces to victory over the superior French army, was born near what is now Goliad, Texas. “This fact should make Americans, especially Texans, very proud of their connection to that event,” said Raul Ramos of the University of Houston. “But often it doesn't resonate. The Mexican aspect of Texas history has been so marginalized and ghettoized, it takes extra effort for people to learn about it.”
Ramos pointed out that the fact that a Tejano (or “Tex-Mex”) has a link to Cinco de Mayo reflects the reality that Mexican history is part of American history. “It gives you a sense that our countries have had a shared history going back hundreds of years,” he said. “It is something that extends to cultural and national ties as well as family ties.”
Margarita Sánchez of Wagner College takes a pragmatic view of what Cinco de Mayo has become. “I wish it were celebrated with more depth, with more opportunity to learn about Mexican history,” she said. “But a day of celebration is a day of celebration — and that is good for everyone.”
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What's the history behind St. Patrick's Day?
You're probably not surprised to learn that St. Patrick's Day hasn't always been a raucous affair, celebrated with huge parades and green beer. As the feast day of Saint Patrick, it was and still is a holy day in Christianity. The day was first established in 1631 as a modest religious holiday, and honoring Ireland's patron saint. Because it fell right in the middle of Lent, people began using it as a reason to celebrate and take a break from the restraints and abstinence of the period leading up to Easter. However, it didn't actually become a public holiday in Ireland until 1904!
The St. Patrick's Day celebrations we recognize today are actually a product of Irish immigrants in America. Parades sprung up in major U.S. cities in the 1700s, including Boston and New York City. As Irish populations grew in America, so did St. Patrick's Day festivities. During the 1900s, Americans on March 17 were wearing green clothes, eating corned beef and cabbage (despite it not being a popular dish in Ireland!), and attending massive parades across the country.
History of Memorial Day
Memorial Day, as Decoration Day gradually came to be known, originally honored only those lost while fighting in the Civil War. But during World War I the United States found itself embroiled in another major conflict, and the holiday evolved to commemorate American military personnel who died in all wars, including World War II, The Vietnam War, The Korean War and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
For decades, Memorial Day continued to be observed on May 30, the date General Logan had selected for the first Decoration Day. But in 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May in order to create a three-day weekend for federal employees. The change went into effect in 1971. The same law also declared Memorial Day a federal holiday.
WATCH: Flashback: Memorial Day - 1936
Please Don't Wear A Sombrero: What Cinco De Mayo Really Means, From A Mexican
A couple of years ago, Danique Montique, a Black student, was walking at the University of New Hampshire when she noticed several white students wearing sombreros and ponchos. It was May 5.
She recorded the students and told them she felt their flippant use of Mexican garb amounted to cultural appropriation. The students Montique confronted became defensive and a shouting match ensued. She uploaded the altercation on social media.
Soon, another social media post mocking Montique, with what appeared to depict blackface was also widely shared. In a matter of days, swastikas appeared on campus, as did a racial epithet targeting African-Americans.
This is how white supremacy works. It always begins with the taking &mdash an entitled grabbing of the cultural symbols of others. A sombrero? A serape? A kimono? Cornrows? They're there for the seizing. And if such snatching is questioned &mdash if we dare confront the audacity by which it plucks what isn't its own &mdash then there is intimidation and terror.
White supremacy grabs and grabs &mdash lands, people, continents, culture &mdash for both power and hollow amusement.
What about the innocuous celebration of cultures outside of your own? Can't well-meaning white folks just have a bowl of guacamole and some beer on Cinco de Mayo without being accused of appropriating? Well, of course.
But I try to avoid celebrations in which people who otherwise do not at all engage with Mexican culture merrily wear sombreros and serapes and chug tequila on this day. I’m not here for that, particularly in a cultural moment when hate crimes against Latinos has increased at least by 24% according to the FBI, we are harassed in public for speaking Spanish and anti-immigrant sentiment is excruciatingly blatant.
My biggest gripe with Cinco de Mayo is not the cultural appropriation, as off-putting as I find it. The real tragedy for me is that a day that once represented Black and brown solidarity &mdash and resistance against colonialism &mdash has been mired by a commercial whitewashing.
Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Battle of Puebla in 1862, when a rag-tag army of mostly indigenous Mexicans defeated French forces who attempted to conquer the independent country. Severely outnumbered and armed with outdated guns, Mexican soldiers defended the city of Puebla, forcing the French to retreat. The French were directed by Emperor Napoleon III, who used debt collecting from Mexico, as a pretext to invade the country.
Napoleon III's efforts were eventually fruitful. A year after the first Battle of Puebla, French forces returned and ushered in a short-lived French occupation of Mexico.
But that first Puebla victory, which delayed the French occupation for a year, appeared to benefit the Union army in a struggle hundreds of miles away: the American Civil War. Some scholars and historians now believe that Napoleon III's invasion of Mexico was a masked attempt to set up a base that could assist the South against the Union. The Union had stopped the flow of cotton to France, forcing French textile manufacturers to lay off workers.
When Napoleon III invaded Mexico, the Civil War, then in its second year, was looking hopeful for the Confederate South and the French emperor had apparently "teased" the South that France would recognize it. Had Mexicans lost the first Battle of Puebla, the French could have assisted the Confederacy when it still had an advantage and the outcome of the Civil War may have been a different one.
At the time, Mexican-Americans in California opposed to slavery felt that the success of the Union could hinge on the Battle of Puebla and upon hearing that Mexican forces had prevailed, they celebrated with fireworks and drinks. Cinco de Mayo was born. (Some of these Mexican-Americans had seen Mexico disavow slavery in 1829 &mdash when California was still part of Mexico &mdash a few years after gaining independence from Spain. Then California joined the Union as a free state in 1850.)
So, Cinco de Mayo began as a Mexican-American holiday, not a Mexican one. In Mexico, it's really only celebrated in Puebla.
In the '60s, Chicano activists in the U.S. revived the holiday, using it as a call to solidarity for Civil Rights.
But by 1989, beer companies usurped the day, using it as a commercial opportunity to increase their revenues and began to market the day for white audiences, too. Now, it's mostly an excuse for college frats to get drunk and appropriate our culture without really thinking about Mexicans. It's also one of the most profitable days outside of Christmas holidays for booze companies.
But I know what Cinco de Mayo is to me. It was one of the first holidays enacted by people who didn't divide loyalties based on borders. Instead, they stood in solidarity with people different from them. They understood that none of us are free until we are all free.
When I think of the forces at work in 1862 &mdash colonialism, a fight to continue to own people as property because of the color of their skin, oppression and imperialism disguised as economic policy &mdash it seems to me that I can almost trace that entitlement to the events at the University of New Hampshire and any number of racist incidents happening today. The same malevolent force stands behind all hate. Then and now.
And it seeks to take what it doesn't have.
If you don't know or care what Cinco de Mayo really celebrates, if you haven't spent some time thinking about your own biases against Mexicans, if you don't know the history of lynchings and systemic discrimination against Mexicans in this country, if you avoid conversations about immigration or enter them in bad faith, if you don't know the human cost it took for Mexicans to change some fundamental labor laws in this country, or if you don't have any Mexican friends in your life, maybe you shouldn't celebrate Cinco de Mayo.
No matter what, avoid the sombrero. It's not yours to take.
Maria Garcia is WBUR's Managing Editor and the creator of "Anything for Selena."
Here's the Real Reason Why You Should Celebrate Cinco de Mayo This Year - Recipes
It’s strawberry season! Those lush, first fruits of summer are starting to appear in home gardens, farmer’s markets, and u-pick patches. How do you keep them fresh and enjoy them at their prime?
There is nothing worse than having fresh strawberries go bad within a day or two. Because it happens all too frequently, consumers have shared their ‘secrets’ or methods to thwart this disappointing situation. Any number of recommendations on keeping strawberries fresh can be found by perusing the web. One site, thekitchen.com , put seven popular methods of storing strawberries to the test with the hopes of find the best method of storing strawberries longer. The test findings revealed that rinsing the strawberries in vinegar water prior to storage proved to be the best. Having heard that method several years ago, I tried it and did not find it to be as successful as touted. According to food scientists, moisture is the enemy of strawberries. So what do the experts recommend?
Rinse the berries and remove caps when you are ready to eat or use them.
University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension  says that “strawberries are like small sponges and soak up all the water they come into contact with. Once they have soaked it up, they are quick to turn to mush and mold even if they have been thoroughly patted dry.” This is also the reason that strawberries should not be picked when they are damp. The same holds true for berries that have experienced heavy rain or several days of wet weather even though they are dry at the time of picking they are on moisture overload and will not keep long regardless of how they are cared for or stored.
Therefore, strawberries should only be washed before eating or using to remove dirt and any potential bacterial contamination. To wash, rinse the berries thoroughly under cool running water, drain in a clean strainer, and pat dry with paper towels. For any berries showing signs of dirt, gently rub the berry under running water. Linda J Harris, Food Safety Expert at UC Davis , says “Washing strawberries in a sink filled with water is not recommended since the standing water can spread contamination from one berry to another. The use of soap or detergent is also not recommended or approved for washing fruits and vegetables because the produce can absorb detergent residues.”
Refrigerate if not used right away.
Strawberries do not ripen after picking so putting them in the refrigerator does not slow the ripening. It does, however, slow the progression of mold growth on or between the berries if they will not be used for eating or cooking shortly after picking. If they will be used or eaten after picking, they will not deteriorate sitting on a counter for a couple of hours at room temperature. Cold temperatures suppress the flavor of the berries so they will taste sweeter if you let them come to room temperature before eating.
The optimum storage temperature for strawberries is 32⁰ to 36⁰F with humidity at 90 to 95 percent. Therefore, the refrigerator fruit crisper drawer is the best place to keep them. Purchased berries can be stored in the plastic clamshell containers they are usually sold in. However, the containers should be opened and the berries checked for any that are crushed or spoiling and removed before refrigerating. For fresh picked berries, consider placing them in layers between paper towels in a covered container. The purpose of the paper towels is to soak up excess moisture from the strawberries and to allow air circulation between the berries. I’ve had very good luck storing my freshly picked strawberries in clamshell containers that I’ve saved from purchased berries. Stored properly under optimum conditions, fresh strawberries should last 7 days but their shelf life also depends on how ripe the berries were when purchased or picked.
Berries that have been cut or sliced should be covered and refrigerated if they are not eaten or used within 2 hours of preparation. 
For longer term storage, freeze, dry, or preserve (jams and jellies).
For best quality, strawberries should be preserved on the day they are harvested. Select berries that are firm, brightly colored, sweet-scented, and have hulls (green caps) attached. On average, 1 pound of fresh berries yields 1 pint of frozen berries. One pound of fresh berries is approximately 2/3 – 1 quart of fresh berries. A quart container of fresh strawberries is approximately 1½ pounds or 4 cups sliced berries. Wash the berries as indicated and remove the caps.
Freezing strawberries is quick and easy and perfect for making smoothies, sauces, and jams at a later date. Frozen berries are also great for baking. Further, a lot of berries are not needed at any one time to freeze. There are different methods for freezing—sliced or whole, sugar or no sugar, container or bag—all are acceptable personal choices. What is important is that the berries are protected from freezer burn. My favorite method is to spread whole prepared berries on a tray and freeze. When frozen, remove them from the freezer, package (I like the zipper bags), and quickly return to the freezer. The fruit pieces remain loose and can be used in whatever quantity is need.
Drying strawberries reduces the amount of space needed for storage. Berries can be left whole but dry better if sliced ¼ to ½-inch thick they can also be pureed for a fruit leather. A food dehydrator produces the best quality dried strawberries. Strawberries should not be dried in a microwave oven as they are prone to scorching and burning. Proper drying temperature is 135⁰ to 140⁰F. The amount of time it takes to dry strawberries depends on their initial moisture content, the volume being dried, the size and thickness, humidity of the ambient air, and the dehydrator. Berries are dry when they are pliable but not sticky or tacky. Cool the dried berries thoroughly and package quickly. Dried strawberries can be rehydrated. I like themas a snack food they can also be added to yogurt and cereal. For additional information on drying strawberries, the National Center for Home Food Preservation has a publication, Drying Fruits and Vegetables.
Preserving strawberries in the form of jams, jellies or fruit spreads are rewarding ways to use ripe strawberries. Preserves made with commercial pectin products are quick and easy to do package directions should be carefully followed for success. Jam can also be made without added pectin. A good recipe can be found at the National Center for Home Food Preservation. Freezer jam is another option. It is made with a modified pectin as freezer jams do not require cooking. Freezer jam tastes more like fresh strawberries.
Enjoy those succulent strawberries while at their prime!
I am a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a BS in Home Economics Education and Extension and from Colorado State University with a MS in Textiles and Clothing. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, gardening, quilting, cooking, sewing, and sharing knowledge and experience with others.
Six tips to serve champagne like the experts this NYE
NYE is fast approaching and although we&rsquoll be cooped up at home when the clock strikes twelve there&rsquos still every reason to celebrate with a glass (or two) of champagne.
For one, we&rsquove lived through a tough pandemic that had us torn from loved ones but also, brighter days await and if that&rsquos not grounds for celebrating, we don&rsquot know what is!
If you&rsquore popping open a glass of champagne this NYE, there&rsquos a few things to keep in mind when it comes to optimal bubble enjoyment.
Here&rsquos what you need to know to serve your bubbly like the experts!
While we totally understand the urge to fill your glass to the brim, the right way to do things is to leave a little room at the top. Why? Because letting your champers breathe is super important to allow you enjoy all the aromas and flavours. Try to leave an inch from the top of your glass for maximum bubbly deliciousness.
Use The Right Glasses
Forget everything you thought you knew about champagne flutes being the correct glass to serve your bubbly as it turns out a white wine glass is much superior. Why? Because those narrow glasses make it difficult to get the best out of your drink! 90% of what you taste when drinking champers comes from what you smell and the flutes don&rsquot allow you to appreciate all the wonderful aromas. Try a wine glass next time and be amazed at the difference.
Hold Your Glass Correctly
If you&rsquore one to hold your glass by the bowl, stop right now! Champagne is best enjoyed chilled and holding your glass this way will only warm it up quicker. The expert way to hold the glass is by the stem #noted.
Use A Stopper Between Pours
The beauty of champagne is in those dozens of teeny tiny little bubbles and once opened, your goal is to preserve them as much as possible. A stopper is essential in keeping your champagne nice and bubbly and ensuring every sip is as good as the first.
Don&rsquot &lsquoPop&rsquo The Bottle Open
If your bottle pops open, you&rsquore doing it wrong according to the experts. Instead, you should hear more of a &lsquogentle sigh&rsquo. The trick, we&rsquore told, is in keeping the wire cage on the cork when opening your bottle of choice. Simply untwist the wire, ensuring it&rsquos wider than the opening of the bottle. Keeping your thumb on top of the cork and wire cage with one hand, use your other hand to twist the base of the bottle until the cork slowly comes up on its own.
Freezer Chilling Is A Major No No
While you might be tempted to whack your bottle of champers in the freezer for a few mins, it&rsquos best to avoid doing so as it will most likely explode. The best way to chill champagne is in the bottom section of your fridge leave your bottle to rest for three to four hours and you&rsquoll serve the perfectly chilled glass each time. If you&rsquore short on time, a bucket of ice mixed with water is the perfect way to chill your bottle (30-50mins) before serving.
At Least He’s Consistent
In an interview published Tuesday, President Trump told The New York Post that he would most likely skip this year’s White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, reciting his usual complaints about unfair treatment from the press. He singled out the 2011 host, Seth Meyers, calling him “a no-talent comic” and “nasty,” before saying that both Meyers and Stephen Colbert, host of “The Late Show,” are unfunny.
Trump followed with a tweet praising the Fox News host Greg Gutfeld and taking a swipe at Colbert, Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel. A few of the hosts responded to the president in their Tuesday night monologues.
“Well, I can’t speak for Seth. He’s very talented, but I’m an idiot, and the only reason I have a job is because I married the daughter of Donald CBS, and for some reason, he keeps putting me in charge of everything.” — STEPHEN COLBERT
“It’s nice to know that Trump is staying laser-focused on the ball during a crisis.” — STEPHEN COLBERT
“‘Wacko last placer.’ I hope he wasn’t talking about me. I think maybe this was another typo situation. I think what he meant to tweet was, ‘I am completely devastated by the loss of life caused by this insidious virus. My thoughts are with the families of those who have passed. I pledge to spend every waking moment working to make sure our medical workers have the support they need and every American has access to tests. p.s. Congrats to Greg Gutfeld!’ That’s better, right?” — JIMMY KIMMEL
“He does seem to be familiar with all the late-night shows. I’ve heard that if you snort enough Adderall, you can watch four of them at once.” — JIMMY KIMMEL
10 much better names for the Army bases honoring Confederate generals
Posted On June 16, 2020 04:05:13
History is supposedly written by the winners.
It was only a matter of time before the current climate of unrest led back to the U.S. military — and its 10 Army bases named for Confederate generals, all spread throughout the former Confederacy.
Whether to rename them continues to be a contentious political issue, but the practical-minded among us have moved on. If they are renamed, what will they be called?
So, without once using the term “Forty McFortFace,” here are a few suggestions — some entirely serious, some very not — for changing those 10 antiquated base names.
1. Fort Benning (Georgia)
This Columbus, Georgia, base was named after Confederate Gen. Henry L. Benning, who fought against the Union armies at the Second Battle of Bull Run, Antietam and Gettysburg. It was named for him in 1918, while many Civil War veterans were still alive. That doesn’t mean it needs to keep the name.
For sheer coolness factor, the base could be renamed for former NFL Wide Receiver Calvin Johnson, whose hometown is just an hour away from Columbus. Enemies would think twice if they knew they would be facing soldiers from Fort Megatron.
They both also have a lot of touchdowns. (U.S. Army photo by Ismael Ortega)
In all seriousness, though, renaming Fort Benning will likely be the easiest rechristening of this whole list, as the military’s basic paratrooper training is conducted here. The base could be named for Maj. General William C. Lee, the “Father of the U.S. Airborne,” and the first commander of the Army’s “jump school.”
Naming it “Fort William C. Lee” isn’t weird, either. Just ask the residents of Fort George G. Meade.
2. Fort Lee (Virginia)
So what to do with Fort Lee, Virginia, now that Fort William C. Lee is in Georgia? The current Fort Lee was named for Robert E. Lee, commander of the Army of Northern Virginia. Even though the federal government seized his estate and turned it into Arlington National Cemetery, it still somehow thought it appropriate to name a base after him.
Robert E. Lee, history’s most undeservingly beloved loser.
A decent thing to do would be to name the base, once a training center for the Women’s Army Corps (WAC), after the WAC’s first director, Oveta Culp Hobby. As the WAC accepted women of all races, it would be a fitting rebranding effort. Gen. Douglas MacArthur did call the WACs “his best soldiers,” after all.
If that doesn’t garner enough support, renaming the installation for Lee’s famous adversary should. Situated in the greater Richmond region, renaming Fort Lee to Fort Grant would send a positive message to the people who look up to the U.S. Army. Grant owned one slave in his life, acquired from his father-in-law, and set the man free in less than a year.
3. Fort Bragg (North Carolina)
Besides being named for a Confederate general, Fort Bragg should be renamed because it’s the home of Army Special Forces, the 75th Ranger Regiment and the Air Force Combat Control School — and it’s named for American history’s worst general.
Bragg lost almost every battle he commanded, always took the opposite of good advice and once even misplaced a line of men.
Is this who we want the home of Army Special Forces to be named for?
Lemme answer that for you: No. (U.S. Air Force/Airman 1st Class Isaac Johnson)
There are a bevy of candidates that would be better suited for the name of such a place. “The President of the Underground Railroad,” Levi Coffin, got his start helping fugitive slaves in Greensboro, North Carolina. “Fort Coffin,” however, sounds, well … So maybe that’s a no.
Then there’s Hiram Revels, born a free man in Fayetteville, he helped organize two regiments of the then-called United States Colored Troops and served as their chaplain. Later, he became the first African American U.S. senator, representing Mississippi.
Fort Revels sounds like a name appropriate for a base in Fayettenam.
4. Fort Hood (Texas)
This Killeen, Texas-based installation is named for John Bell Hood, a Confederate who wasn’t even from Texas. Known for his bravery, all that bravado didn’t help him even slow down Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman on his way to burn down the South and everything they loved. Surely, Texans have a number of people they would prefer to honor over a Confederate. It’s Texas. TEXAS.
For starters, how about the most decorated soldier who ever lived, a World War II Medal of Honor recipient born in Kingston, Texas, who went from enlisted man to officer, then starred in the hit movie about his own life: Audie Murphy.
Fort Murphy would have much better pedigree than Fort Hood, named for a general who peaked before the Civil War was even halfway over.
5. Fort Polk (Louisiana)
What does one rename the most reviled duty station in all of the U.S. Army? Surely, we can honor someone other than a guy with no previous military experience whose Civil War claim to fame is that he died in it.
Louisiana is one of the most unique states in the Union, with a history unlike any other. But again, for sheer coolness factor, we could rename this for Union Col. Algernon Sidney Badger. Badger was from Massachusetts but served at the Battle of Mobile Bay and ended up in Louisiana. He liked it so much, he stayed there when the war was over. Plus, the symbolism of a badger killing a snake is too good to pass up.
Who wouldn’t want to be stationed at Fort Badger?
But the top candidate for Fort Polk‘s new name has to be William C.C. Claiborne, the first American governor of Louisiana. He was conciliatory toward native tribes under his jurisdiction and tried to secure clemency for the captured organizers of the largest slave revolt in U.S. history. He also negotiated for the help of the pirate Jean Lafitte for the defense of New Orleans during the War of 1812.
Fort Polk is dead. Long live Fort Claiborne.
6. Fort Gordon (Georgia)
Only in the old Confederacy could you be hailed a hero upon your return from losing a war. Besides getting that particular participant trophy, John Brown Gordon’s career can’t be discussed without mentioning how many times he was wounded in action.
This photo would be more accurate if you could see the four wounds on his head.
This installation also housed Camp Crockett, a training area for special operators and airborne troops preparing for action during the Vietnam War. It would be an easy historical nod to American legend Davy Crockett, who fought against the Indian Removal Act and later died fighting at the Alamo. If we want to stick to soldiers of the U.S. Army, Fort Gordon is notable because Alvin York, the famed conscientious objector-turned Medal of Honor recipient in World War I, was trained here.
Fort York has a nice ring to it. But Fort Flipper would be more appropriate.
Georgia was home to Henry O. Flipper, the first African American graduate of West Point. Can you imagine the level of harassment this man endured? Commissioned and sent to the frontier areas, he did his job well until he was improperly accused of embezzling quartermaster funds and court-martialed, an injustice to which the Army later admitted. President Bill Clinton would later pardon him.
7. Fort Pickett (Virginia)
Fort Pickett is a National Guard Base in Virginia named after a guy who led one of the most ill-advised infantry charges in history. Not just in American history, but all of world history. While Maj. Gen. George Pickett didn’t order the charge at Gettysburg (Robert E. Lee did, despite all advice against it), his name got slapped on it, whether he liked it or not.
Just like no one cares what they called meat on bread before the 4th Earl of Sandwich started passing them out on card night.
Pickett’s charge led to the defeat of the Confederacy at Gettysburg, a loss from which the South couldn’t recover and ultimately ended their war with loss. And we named a base after him.
A much better choice for the name of the fort would probably be Gibbon, named for Brig. Gen. John Gibbon, commander of the Union forces who stopped Pickett’s part of the infamous charge.
But since this is a base belonging to the Virginia National Guard, they might want to name it after a Virginian. Luckily, there’s no shortage of good Virginians, and two of them are giants of the U.S. Army’s history. Gen. Douglas MacArthur considered Norfolk his home, and Gen. George C. Marshall, Army chief of staff during World War II, attended the Virginia Military Institute.
8. Fort A.P. Hill (Virginia)
Then, use the other one to rename Fort A.P. Hill.
Although one of the more capable commanders on the list, this Confederate general’s accomplishments include not being Stonewall Jackson, getting shot seven days before the war ended and having gonorrhea for 21 years.
9. Fort Rucker (Alabama)
Fort Rucker is named for Col. Edmund Rucker, a Confederate Army chef who designed a way for Confederate troops to live on eating grass. While that’s not even remotely true, no one outside of Fort Rucker knows that or cares to Google it. Rucker wasn’t even from Alabama, he just made a lot of money there.
The first suggestion for renaming the base goes to Gen. Oliver W. Dillard, the fifth African American flag officer in Army history, the first black intelligence general and a National Intelligence Hall of Famer. He joined during World War II and served through Korea, Vietnam and most of the Cold War.
But if time in service is what we’re looking for, look no further than Alabama’s own Sgt. Maj. Gilbert “Hashmark” Johnson. Johnson first enlisted in the Army in 1923 and was discharged as a corporal six years later. After four years as a civilian, he again enlisted, this time in the Navy. “Hashmark” was aboard the USS Wyoming when it was attacked at Pearl Harbor. Later that year, he was one of the first black men to join the United States Marine Corps.
If there’s a problem with an Army base named for a Marine, look at who it’s named for now, then look at this photo of Hashmark. (U.S. Marine Corps)
Johnson spent another 17 years in the Corps, with a total of 32 years in service. He earned the name “Hashmark” because he had more service stripes than stripes indicating his rank. Welcome to Fort Hashmark.
10. Camp Beauregard (Louisiana)
Louisiana’s National Guard runs this base, named for Confederate Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard, one of the South’s most able commanders — and one who would end up arguing for racial cooperation after the Civil War’s end.
While that’s admirable, there’s a good chance he just wanted the votes of newly freed black men against Reconstruction-era radical Republicans, so let’s not go crazy about how reconstructed Beauregard was. If we’re going to choose a Louisianan with questionable motives, let’s name the camp after the aforementioned pirate Jean Lafitte.
Who wears the same facial expression as your First Sergeant.
Lafitte turned from sailor/pirate/merchant to soldier in nearly a heartbeat to help the Americans defend the port city of New Orleans from outside attack, and if that doesn’t sound like the National Guard, I don’t know what does.
This article originally appeared on Military.com. Follow @militarydotcom on Twitter.
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Tres Leches Cake
Pastel de Tres Leches or Three Milk’s Cake, is one of the most, if not the most popular and sold cake throughout Mexico. It is also amongst the most requested recipes I have been asked for after Pickled Jalapeños and Piggie cookies. So dear readers, I am sorry it has taken this long but here it goes! I promise to get to the other requests, which I love getting on your emails, as soon as possible.
Tres Leches is a sweet, practically wet, homey cake. Its base is a vanilla sponge cake, completely soaked in a sauce traditionally made with three kinds of milk: sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and regular milk. Some versions substitute regular milk with heavy cream. The cake will sometimes have a topping like fresh whipped cream, which I seriously consider of utmost necessity. Sometimes the topping turns out to be meringue or even chocolate ganache.
Growing up in Mexico City, there was a bakery called La Gran Via, which sold such delicious Tres Leches that even though it was far from home, we used to drive many Sundays to get one. These days La Gran Via has become a large chain store of bakeries… it has been years since I have eaten one of their cakes. This recipe, is as close as I get to my nostalgic memories.
To make the sponge cake as fluffy as can be, start by beating the egg whites until they hold soft peaks. Add the sugar and keep on beating until they hold stiff peaks.
Separately beat the egg yolks until thick, creamy and very pale in color and add some vanilla.
I really feel the need to take a photo of the vanilla and show it to you. It’s Mexican vanilla from Papantla, the place where vanilla originated. Vanilla grown and harvested in Papantla, really blows me away. And just look how pretty the bottle is…
Then pour the egg yolks (look at how thick and pale the egg yolks are after beating them for 4 to 5 minutes, that’s what you want) with that hint of vanilla, onto the egg white mixture.
Gently, with a spatula, in evolving motions, combine the yellow with the white, being careful not to lose much of the volume and fluffiness already achieved.
Once well combined, add the flour and incorporate it in evolving motions.
Pour that batter onto the prepared pan, buttered and lined with parchment paper.
It is a simple cake batter: just egg whites, sugar, egg yolks, vanilla and flour. But it turns out fluffy, homey and spongy because of the way these ingredients are used.
Into the oven for about 25 minutes, until the cake has a nice tanned crust, it is spongy to the touch and a toothpick comes out clean.
After you get the cake out of the oven, invert it onto a plate and poke all over with a fork, or two forks. You want to help the cake find ways to absorb the sauce you are about to make.
There goes the condensed milk and the evaporated milk into the regular milk, and a bit more vanilla.
Some modern versions of the cake add other kinds of flavors into the sauce, like chocolate, cajeta (Mexican goat’s milk version of dulce de leche) or Rompope (Mexican eggnog). If you like a hint of alcohol in your desserts, go ahead and pour in some Rum or Kahlua.
Pour all the sauce on top…
Though not all versions of the cake have whipped cream on top I think it is of the most absolute necessity. Life or death. NEED it. Spoon it. Spread it.
The cake tastes much better when it has had a chance to soak in all of that sauce and when it is cold. So it is a good idea to cover it and refrigerate it for at least an hour.
It is simple to eat, simple to see, simple to make. It is a simply unfussy and tasty dessert that is somewhat neutral, so it can take many variations. Of course you can add some fruit on top or in between, fresh strawberries work really nice here, its your choice.
The fluffy yet completely wet cake holds its shape as it gives in to the flavor of the sauce. The whipped cream, as you can see, just needs, needs, needs to go on top. It makes such a nice contrast with the wetness and sweetness of the cake. After you try it, let me know what you think. Whipped cream on top?