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Shedding doubt on a pillar of Mexico’s patriotic history

September has long been known as the nationwide celebratory explosion called Las Fiestas Patrias.

A major event of this patriotic season has been the honoring of Los Niños Heroes, six teenage military cadets who, historians said, committed suicide at Chapultepec Hill overlooking Mexico City, rather than surrendering to advancing U.S. forces during the Mexican-American War of 1847.

All nations have patriotic myths that help create national coherence and sustain patriotic fervor in times of peril. Washington and the simplification of the 13 colonies’ revolt against England, stripping Lincoln and the Civil War of their complexities, the pioneers, Indians and cowmen north of the border.

This does not mean there are no real heroes, but that some have been chosen hastily—to assuage local pride or for expedient national purposes.

In an annual ritual, Mexican soldiers based in Guadalajara honor the six “Niños Heroes” who died for their country rather than surrender to the approaching U.S. Army in Mexico City in 1847.

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