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Celebrate Hispanic Heritage

This is a time to recognize the contributions of Hispanic Americans to the United States and to celebrate Hispanic heritage and culture.

Our Lady of Guadalupe

The Virgin of Guadalupe has symbolized the Mexican nation since Mexico's War of Independence. Rebel armies waged war underneath Guadalupan flags, and Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe is generally recognized as a symbol of all Catholic Mexicans.

 Guadalupe's first major use as a nationalistic symbol was in the writing of Miguel Sánchez, the author of the first Spanish language apparition account. Sanchez identified Guadalupe as Revelation's Woman of the Apocalypse, and said that "this New World has been won and conquered by the hand of the Virgin Mary...[who had] prepared, disposed, and contrived her exquisite likeness in this her Mexican land, which was conquered for such a glorious purpose, won that there should appear so Mexican an image."

 In 1810 Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla initiated the bid for Mexican independence with his Grito de Dolores, yelling words to the effect of "Death to the Spaniards and long live the Virgin of Guadalupe!" When Hidalgo's mestizo-indigenous army attacked Guanajuato and Valladolid, they placed "the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, which was the insignia of their enterprise, on sticks or on reeds painted different colors" and "they all wore a print of the Virgin on their hats."

 When Hidalgo died, leadership of the revolution fell to a zambo/mestizo priest named Jose Maria Morelos who led insurgent troops in the Mexican south. Morelos was also a Guadalupan partisan: he made the Virgin the seal of his Congress of Chilpancingo, saying: "New Spain puts less faith in its own efforts than in the power of God and the intercession of its Blessed Mother, who appeared within the precincts of Tepeyac as the miraculous image of Guadalupe that had come to comfort us, defend us, visibly be our protection."

He inscribed the Virgin's feast day, December 12, into the Chilpancingo constitution, and declared that Guadalupe was the power behind his military victories. One of Morelos' officers, a man named Felix Fernandez who would later become the first Mexican president, even changed his name to Guadalupe Victoria.

 Simón Bolívar, noticed the Guadalupan theme in these uprisings, and shortly before Morelos' death in 1815 wrote: "... the leaders of the independence struggle have put fanaticism to use by proclaiming the famous Virgin of Guadalupe as the queen of the patriots, praying to her in times of hardship and displaying her on their flags...the veneration for this image in Mexico far exceeds the greatest reverence that the shrewdest prophet might inspire."

 In 1914, Emiliano Zapata's peasant army rose out of the south against the government of Porfirio Diaz. Though Zapata's rebel forces were primarily interested in land reform — "tierra y libertad" (land and liberty) was the slogan of the uprising — when Zapata's peasant troops penetrated Mexico City, they carried Guadalupan banners.

 More recently, the contemporary Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) named their "mobile city" in honor of the Virgin: it is called Guadalupe Tepeyac. EZLN spokesperson Subcomandante Marcos wrote a humorous letter in 1995 describing the EZLN bickering over what to do with a Guadalupe statue they had received as a gift.




Mexican National Anthem

Mexicanos, al grito de guerra
El acero aprestad y el bridon;
y retiemble en sus centros la tierra
Al sonoro rugir del canon.

Mexicans, at the cry of battle
lend your swords and bridle;
and let the earth tremble at its center
upon the roar of the cannon.

Cina -oh patria! tus sienes de olivo
De la Paz el arcangel divino,
Que en el cielo tu eterno destino
Por el dedo de Dios se escribio.
Mas si osare un extrano enemigo
Profanar con su planta tu suelo,
Piensa -oh patria querida! que el cielo
Un soldado en cada hijo te dio.

Your forehead shall be girded, oh fatherland, with olive garlands
by the divine archangel of peace,
For in heaven your eternal destiny
has been written by the hand of God.
But should a foreign enemy
Profane your land with his sole,
Think, beloved fatherland, that heaven
gave you a soldier in each son.


-Guerra, guerra sin tregua al que intente
De la patria manchar los blasones!
-Guerra, guerra! Los patrios pendones
En las olas de sangre empapad.
-Guerra, guerra! En el monte, en el valle
Los canones horrisonos truenen
Y los ecos sonoros resuenen
Con las voces de -Union! -Libertad!

War, war without truce against who would attempt
to blemish the honor of the fatherland!
War, war! The patriotic banners
saturate in waves of blood.
War, war! On the mount, in the vale
The terrifying cannon thunder
and the echoes nobly resound
to the cries of union! liberty!

Antes, patria, que inermes tus hijos
Bajo el yugo su cuello dobleguen,
Tus campinas con sangre se rieguen,
Sobre sangre se estampe su pie.
Y tus templos, palacios y torres
Se derrumben con horrido estruendo,
Y sus ruinas existan diciendo:
De mil heroes la patria aqui fue.

Fatherland, before your children become unarmed
Beneath the yoke their necks in sway,
May your countryside be watered with blood,
On blood their feet trample.
And may your temples, palaces and towers
crumble in horrid crash,
and their ruins exist saying:
The fatherland was made of one thousand heroes here.

-Patria! -patria! Tus hijos te juran
Exhalar en tus aras su aliento,
Si el clarin con su belico acento
Los convoca a lidiar con valor.
-Para ti las guirnaldas de oliva!
-Un recuerdo para ellos de gloria!
-Un laurel para ti de victoria!
-Un sepulcro para ellos de honor!

Fatherland, fatherland, your children swear
to exhale their breath in your cause,
If the bugle in its belligerent tone
should call upon them to struggle with bravery.
For you the olive garlands!
For them a memory of glory!
For you a laurel of victory!
For them a tomb of honor!

Mexicanos, al grito de guerra
El acero aprestad y el bridon,
y retiemble en sus centros la tierra
Al sonoro rugir del canon.

... the word "Hispanic"

Stories of Latinos

The Mexican Flag


The Flag of Mexico, as it is today, was adopted in 1968. But Mexican flag history really goes back over 600 years earlier than that.

In the early 1300s, so the story goes, the wandering tribe of Mexica people were looking for a home. Persecuted and cast out from other nations, they believed that their god, Huitzilopochtli, would show them a sign - to guide them to their new settlement. The Mexica people (who would become part of the mighty Aztec Empire) believed that they would see an eagle perched on a prickly pear cactus, and that's where they would build their new city.

But then Mexican flag history took a strange turn. According to the legend the Mexica people did indeed see the sign - but it was on an unlikely spot. A small, swampy island in the middle of Lake Texcoco.

Just as the Mexican people still are today, the Mexicas were resourceful. They invented the chinampas system, which allowed them to create small garden islands, which would eventually help to dry out the land. As it dried, they built. Causeways were built across the lake to allow access to the island. In 1325, the city of  Tenochtitlan was born.

When the Spanish saw this symbol of the empire - an eagle on a cactus, they misinterpreted the red and blue currents coming from the eagle's mouth. Someone thought it was a snake, and the symbolism of the eagle and snake stuck.

The next chapter of Mexican flag history began in 1810.  On September 16, the priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla and a group of revolutionaries began the fight for the independence of Mexico.

Though this first phase of the revolution failed, eventually in 1821 Mexico gained its gained its independence, and in 1824 the Estados Unidos Mexicanos (United Mexican States) were formed.

The flag with red and green, showing the eagle in the middle was first used in 1821, although it looked a little different than the current design.

Throughout Mexican flag history, the design has been changed several times.  The current flag came into use on the 16th of September 1968.  It was officially confirmed by law on the 24th of February 1984.  Generally, throughout the years, there has always been an eagle and there have always been the three colours, green white and red.  The ratios have changed, and the coat of arms have also changed numerous times.

The meaning of the colours has also changed.  When they were originally adopted in 1821, green stood for independence, white for religion (Roman Catholicism) and red for union (between Americans and Europeans.  This union between peoples native to Mexico and Spaniards in Mexico in particular was instrumental in winning the war).

At the end of the Mexican flag history, certain symbols and meanings were agreed upon. The new meanings of the colours are fairly recent: Green is hope, white is unity, and red is the blood of heroes. These meanings are not enforced by law, so they may continue to change.

Today the coat of arms is in the centre of the flag, showing an eagle eating a rattlesnake perched on the nopal (prickly pear) cactus. Underneath is a garland. On the left the garland is green oak, a symbol of strength. On the right is a laurel branch, symbolizing victory.