Cinco de Mayo, while key to Mexican , is not celebrated widely there, Yepes Contreras said. Puebla is the one area of her native country where it is.

Stateside, the celebration has become a symbol of Hispanic pride and the representation of a culture blending American and Mexican roots.

The Village of Puebla was the site of the famous battle in which 4,000 Mexican soldiers beat the combined forces of French and traitorous Mexican soldiers twice their size 100 miles east of Mexico City in 1862. The victory is seen as a symbol of those who have had to overcome insurmountable odds while facing adversity.

The French had landed in Mexico five months earlier, cloaked under the guise of collecting Mexican debts from the newly elected government of President Benito Juarez.

In fact, they planned to throw over the government and seize the country for French rule.

The French army had not been defeated in 50 years. Bringing with it the finest modern equipment, the army did not fear the United States because it was focused on defeating the Southern Confederate Army during the Civil War.

The foreign army left the port of Vera Cruz to attack Mexico City, which it assumed would collapse as many European countries had.

Instead, the French were tricked into defeat by using its calvary to chase Mexican Arm Col. Porfirio Diaz, who had attacked its flanks.

Diaz had been ordered by Gen. Ignacio Zaragosa to attack the French. He brutally engaged them.

The remaining French infantry charged the Mexicans through slick mud and through hundreds of head of cattle stampeded by Indians armed only with machetes.

By their defeat of the French, the Mexican prevented Napoleon III - no friend of the United States - from supplying Confederate forces fighting against Union troops.

That allowed Union forces to build themselves into a much stronger army and defeat the South.

- Cornelia de Bruin