Just to clear up a misconception Cinco de Mayo is not the Mexican independence day. That was September 16, 1810. Cinco de Mayo celebrates the Mexican army’s defeat of an invading French army force at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. It is largely an American creation, though is also celebrated in the state of Puebla in Mexico. Interestingly former French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte died on this same date in 1821 while in exile on the island of St Helena.
There were a number of firsts on this date: the music hall later called Carnegie Hall in New York, had its grand opening and first public performance in 1891 with Russian composer Tchaikovsky as guest conductor. The first perfect game was thrown by legendary pitcher Cy Young in Boston in 1904. The first use of fingerprints in a trial happened in London in 1905. And Alan Shepard became the first American astronaut in space in 1961.
This was the birthday of the Danish philosopher and author Soren Kierkegaard (1813); revolutionary author Karl Marx (1818); American journalist, author, and world traveler Nellie Bly(1861); and English suffragette and social activist Sylvia Parkhurst(1882). It was also the birthday for American chef and author James Beard (1903); Welsh actor John Rhys Davies (1944, Indiana Jones series and Lord of the Rings trilogy); and two musical voices – country western singer Tammy Wynette (1942) and English singer Adele (1988).
American author Michael Sharra, Civil War chronicler, most notably for Killer Angels (about Gettysburg) laid down his pen in 1988. American-Canadian physicist and engineer who invented the laser ended his labors in the lab in 2007. And the co-creator of Baskin-Robbins, Irv Robbins, scooped his last in 2008.
Along with Cinco de Mayo, today is also National Cartoonists Day, Revenge of the Fifth (to go along with yesterday’s Star Wars theme), and more seriously Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Awareness Day.