If you are planning a trip to Mexico City and want to tour historical locations, you won’t find mention of it in any of the travel guidebooks. It is an one(originally two) acre plot tucked away in the quiet residential neighborhood of San Rafael, about two miles west of the Metropolitan Cathedral and a mile north of the US Embassy.
This year marks the 163rd anniversary of the legislation passed by Congress approving “the purchase of a cemetery near the city of Mexico, and the internment therein of the remains of the American officers and soldiers who fell in battle or otherwise died in or near the city of Mexico.” The bill received final passage in Congress on September 28, 1850.
The main focus of the Mexico City National Cemetery is a monument honoring the unidentified remains of 750 American soldiers killed in the fighting around Mexico City in 1847 during the Mexican-American war. In addition, the cemetery is the final resting place of an additional 813 other Americans in wall crypts on either side of the cemetery. Those interred include veterans of the American Civil War, the Indian campaigns, and the Spanish-American War as well as members of US diplomatic missions in Mexico. The MCNC was closed to burials in 1923.
The cemetery was administered by the State Department till 1873 and then the War(Defense) Department till 1947. President Truman then transferred by executive order responsibility for the site to the American Battle Monuments Commission, an independent government agency. Originally, the site looked a bit like Arlington National Cemetery with gravestones. But in 1976, the grounds were reduced about the same time that the nearby British cemetery was eliminated. Since the US government owns the land, the MCNC has remained in its current form. According to its current Superintendent, Hector de Jesus, a 22 year Army veteran, the site was chosen because it was in the immediate area of the heaviest fighting on the American Army’s drive into Mexico City.
So, if you happen to be on a trip to Mexico City, take part of an afternoon to visit the resting place of these ‘750 Known But to God’.
By Being Latino Contributor, Jeffery Cassity. Jeffery Cassity writes weekly for the Being Latino! website and writes regularly for the Sacramento Press website. His articles have also appeared previously in the El Conquistador newspaper(Milwaukee, Wisconsin), the Kenosha(WI) News and the Sacramento(CA) News & Review. Jeff also has written a number of unproduced(so far) feature movie and TV pilots which he hopes to turn into a late in life career in Hollywood, Mexico City, Beijing and/or Dublin. Follow him on Twitter @jcassity05. Also read his blog containing all his written articles I am Puddin’.