Introduction: The Stellar Moments of Mexican History and the Rhetoric of Failure
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The National History Museum at Chapultepec Castle in Mexico City houses some of the finest murals dedicated to the nation’s past, but the most striking is Gabriel Flores’ Los niños h&oes [The Heroic Children] (1967), which covers the expanse of the castle’s main cupola. Along the perimeter, phantom horses and riders heralded by tattered stars and stripes trample through the debris of war and smoke from the blazing city walls ascends in the form of an imperial eagle. In the center of the mural, a doe-eyed boy wrapped in the Mexican flag, falls headlong from heaven toward the abyss. Tears stream from his eyes as he witnesses the invading Yankee army wrest sovereignty from his beloved homeland. The story of the niños h&oes has become an intriguing part of national mythology. On September 13, 1847, American forces under Winfield Scott bombarded and then assaulted Chapultepec Castle, which at the time served as the military college for up-and-coming young officers. Legend has it that the cadets, bereft of arms and training, held off the invading Americans as long as they could and, when hope seemed lost, climbed to the top tower, draped the national standard on their shoulders, and jumped to their deaths rather than be taken prisoners. Monuments commemorating their deed adorn the grounds of Chapultepec today as a testimony of heroism in the face of foreign intervention.
KeywordsNorth American Free Trade Agreement Identity Construction National Narrative Partido Revolucionario Institucional Imperial Eagle
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