OOC: From my perspective, I love the idea of developing out Mexico as with its North American brothers from the start. The reason is simple - Mexico shares a land border with the United States and is where it is instead of riding high and free with its North American brothers owing to spending the first 180 years of its OTL existence almost entirely bouncing back and forth between dictators, dictatorial single-party governments or chaos. Canada and the United States, thankfully, had no such problems, and while politics in both countries has dramatically changed with time, one steady reality of both nations is stable governance chosen by the people through democratic processes. What Joe proposed to me when we first talked about this works so well because to make Mexico have the same level of governance is, fundamentally, not that difficult.
If it had happened, would Mexico have the same result? It's entirely possible....and here, it happened. And with the conflicts and the territorial changes that came with it came the Spanish influence on North American culture, and Anglo influence on the Mexican culture that went with it. It all led to an entirely different North America, and indeed an entirely different world.
Want to see what that looks like? Read on, my brothers and sisters....
The Alamo, San Antonio, Texas
May 5, 2014
It took a lot to get a massive crowd line the streets of a city in Texas, especially on a warm May day. While of course May 5 always held a special meaning for many Texans, Mexicans and indeed in Americans in general, today was much more than any other May 5, for it marked a special anniversary, an anniversary that could hardly be any more important if it tried.
For it meant it had been 150 years since the end of the Texas Republic, the end of the attempt to destroy the United States from within by Spain and France, the end of Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna and Jefferson Davis' attempts to carve up North America in favor of the slave states. It meant the final end of slavery in the United States and the end of the long threats to Mexico's independence.
It meant the beginnings of the close relationship that had come to exist between the three nations of the North American continent. They came from vastly different beginnings - one had convinced its colonial power to grant it self-government, the other two had had to fight for their freedom, one from Great Britain and the other from Spain. And yet, Texas' actions and those of their European backers and the Mexican General who led an army against his own nation further south had forced the three to come together, and indeed for Washington to ask for - and receive - the help of the same colonial power they had broken away from three quarters of a century before. But despite that, the United States of America, the United Mexican States and the Canadian Federation had all been allies in war, and their success despite the difficulties of it had made the three nations into three brothers, three brothers whose intertwined fates had contributed to a vast portion of the history that had followed in the century and a half that had followed the day Brigadier General Nathan Bedford Forrest had surrendered to General of the Army Robert E. Lee and Governor Sam Houston at this very point, the same point where so many Americans had been killed by Mexicans twenty-eight years before that.
The War had also proven to so many that while the circumstances of one's birth could be vastly different, their abilities weren't decided by those circumstances, but their natural gifts and what they then did with them.
It had been a war defined by its heroes, and those heroes took many forms. Brigadier Thomas Meagher and his never-say-die Irish Brigade and Colonel William O'Rourke and his tactically-brilliant Fighting Irish. Major Patrick Washington and the Savannah Cavalry, the black soldiers who grew such a repute that the Texas Confederates feared their very presence. Captain James Konkaientha and the fearless, hard-fighting Kahnawake and Kanesatake Warriors, who singlehandedly saved thousands of American troops from Bedford Forrest's divisions with their bravery in Nacogdoches. Brigadier Edward Hatch and his racially-mixed 9th, 10th and 11th Cavalry who drove nails into Texas' coffin from the North, leading General Ulysses S. Grant's men into Texas' heartland. Major General Gordon Granger, who turned tens of thousands of men from all walks of life into first-rate soldiers. Colonel Edward Douglas and the Royal Highlanders of Canada, whose troops faced the Texans three times in Little Rock and never budged an inch, earning the nickname "The Iron Guard" in the process, who then burying many of the same troops who had failed to defeat them in Little Rock in Fort Smith a few months later. Major Abraham Tecumseh Hayanemadae, the grandson of Tecumseh, who proved every bit the capable soldier and leader his grandfather had been fifty years before. Generals Mariano Arista and Pedro de Ampustia, who roused Mexico's forces to fight Santa Anna, putting aside their own personal disdain for each other. P.G.T. Beauregard, Albert Sidney Johnston and George McClellan, the "Three Horsemen" Generals who led the American troops sent to Mexico to assist in Santa Anna's destruction. Ambroise-Dydime Lépine, the Metis Canadian who brought his people to the assistance of Ottawa and then personally were responsible for warning Grant, Hatch and Longstreet of Spanish Army actions, with Longstreet saying of him "Dallas wouldn't have been a victory without him". Colonel Anastasio Torrejón, who went from ignomy for defeats against Texas during earlier conflicts to being Beauregard's liason with the Mexicans and ultimately "the greatest right hand man I've ever had." Colonel Brigham Young and the 1st Mormons, whose derisively Texan nickname "God's Failures" didn't last long once they saw combat on the northern front. Brigadier Thomas Jackson, whose troops dogged defenses in multiple places in Arkansas and Louisiana earned his the nickname "Stonewall". Californio Brigadier Andres Pico and the famously-fast 1st California Cavalry, and his Mexican wingman and ally, Colonel Manuel Pineda Munoz.
And above all else was General Robert E. Lee, the Virginian who led the American forces against Texas so ably, and Sam Houston and Stephen Austin, the men who fought for Texas for decades and who ultimately both lived long enough to see their desires become reality, with the famed story of President Lincoln successfully leaning on Congress to get the statehood of Texas approved more quickly out of a desire to allow Austin, who was dying of cancer, to be able to live to see it. Lee, all too aware of his country's unhappy racial history but also well aware of the ability of black and native men, proudly pushed for the idea of men of all colours being considered equals, a former slaveowner who pushed so hard for the rights of all men, and who kept his push for this up through his time as President of the United States after the war, ultimately being one of the greatest statements of all men being equals in American history, him and Lincoln being considered among the greatest Presidents the United States ever had.
By the later times of the war, with the Mexicans and their American allies having destroyed so many of the Santanistas and the Canadians ably assisting Americans in putting Jefferson Davis' Texan slavers on the run, the forces of all three nations fought basically as one, and it showed in the results - Johnston actually commanded Arista's men and multiple Canadian units as well as his own during the Rio Grande Campaign, for example. It didn't matter who was the commander or where the troops came from - if there was a mission, it was done. If Mexicans or Canadians were needed to help Americans, they helped - and vice versa.
And it destroyed the slaveholders. It ended France's desires for an Empire in the Americas, directly led to the end of Spanish Empire, brought nearly the entirety of the Caribbean under American or British - the British territories would all become Canadian in time - rule. It led to Mexico growing into an economic powerhouse, led to men of all races and colours spreading across the Western United States and Canada. Native Americans were no longer a problem for America but rather citizens of America, invited to become a part of the nation as its settlers, railroads and telegraph lines spread west - and many did. Black Americans were now all free to create their own world, and with so many having served with the utmost of honor, racism became absolutely unacceptable for many of all races, a racial liberation that only grew across North America and then eventually the World with time. And with rebuilding came new desires to save so much of was great about the nations, with men like Philip Sheridan, Louis Riel and John Muir becoming responsible for a desire to preserve so much of the natural landscapes of the nation.
And now, 150 years later, was a vast celebration of what had been done by those great men, men who had put North America on its path to being some of the most prosperous places on Earth for all of its inhabitants.
The Masters of Ceremonies, of course, were the leaders of what had been called by General Arista as the "Three Amigos". President Samantha Robinson of the United States, President Enrique Pena Nieto of Mexico and Prime Minister Peter MacKay of Canada were all enthusiastic supporters of the ceremonies, the planning of which had been going on for months. The residents of San Antonio of course were enthusiastic supporters of the whole idea as well, and it showed in the much-greater-than-usual use of Spanish by local residents (even the many bilingual ones) and even some trying to speak French, which French Canadians in the area appreciated even if inside they couldn't help but laugh at the attempts. The musical, culinary, dress and numerous other traditions of the three nations mixed heavily, and it was not a surprise that many of these had long been part of life in this part of Texas, but today they were even more proudly displayed than normal. Numerous people from Mexico and Canada had come down to be a part of the celebrations as well, including a vast number of veterans of the conflicts the nations had fought in since, from World War II onwards. These veterans in many cases proudly wore the insignia of units that had fought in the Texas War, thus being in many ways direct descendants of those who had crushed slavery, oppression and colonial powers before them - and many of these men proudly spoke that their units emphasized the exploits of the men who had come before them as being something to hold yourself to.
At Randolph Air Force Base east of the city, another of the proud traditions was displayed in the form of the air show set up to help mark the anniversary that had been very well attended by the three nations and others. In addition to them, contingents from many Commonwealth of Nations and Latin American armed forces had flown up to be a part of it. The day before visitors had watched in amazement at a mock assault on the airfield by a complete battalion of Mexican airborne troops in their helicopters, complete with mock dogfighting between American F-22 Raptor and Mexican JAS 39 Gripen fighters. The troops had been invited to bring their vehicles, and many had, but the greatest of demonstrations, and perhaps the most poignant, had nothing to do with the vehicles at all, just the men.
The massive Alamo Boulevard that ran through the heart of downtown San Antonio right to the monument was divided into three sections, with a laneway in the middle meant for the use of light rail vehicles. In the middle of this three-section road marched American soldiers, with Mexican soldiers on their right and Canadians on their left. The soldiers were all dressed in absolutely-immaculate dress uniforms, with each country having chosen to honour their most-decorated current soldiers in the process of doing so. The American contingent included no less than ten holders of the Medal of Honor, every one of them wearing their medal around their neck. Mexico and Canada had had similar thoughts, and Canada had gone one step further in also including soldiers who had their highest medal for bravery not earned in combat. Each soldier wore all of his decorations - which for a few was quite a list - and carried a pistol and a rifle, which was turned out as perfectly as his uniform. And each line was led, right from the front of their lines, by one of their greatest Generals. For America, it was General of the Army Colin Powell, the famed black General of fame in conflicts in the Middle East. For Mexico it was General Francisco Javier Castañeda, whose personal history of bravery was only matched by his capability in leading his own armed forces. For Canada it was General Romeo Dallaire, who bravery in Africa in 1994 had saved hundreds of thousands of lives from slaughter. The three men all knew each other of course - Dallaire had even served under Powell in NATO commands - and all three had the utmost in respect for each other and their people.
And now, each led his men in a ceremony that was broadcasted across North America and much of the world.
For the crowds watching, it was clear that there was a great deal of pride in it. Platforms set up on side streets were lined with veterans, who to a man raised their arms to salute their countrymen as they marched by, while the rest of the crowd watched with great interest and enjoyment, the many flags of the United States, Mexico and Canada all mixing together and being proudly joined by many banners made by spectators, with people's viewpoints being differed but all respectful - more than a few watching chose to be dressed well for it with dress shirts and trousers, though others just wore their normal clothing. Many off-duty or visiting fire and police units stood on top of their vehicles to watch the procession, and the surrounding office and apartment buildings were all also lined with people watching. It was analogous to a massive parade, but nobody dared cross the lines towards the marching soldiers and the San Antonio Police and the Texas Rangers, watching from well out of the way, had no difficulties watching themselves.
The soldiers marched right up to the Alamo, where Presidents Robertson and Pena Nieto and Prime Minister MacKay were waiting for them, standing at alert of course, another soldier holding a flag of their respective nations behind them. The processions stopped in exactly the right place, where the three Generals walked forward a few more feet, to a dignified distance from their respective commanding officer. They stopped in the right spots, and as they did behind them came bellows from a sergeant at the head of each nation's procession, first in English, then in Spanish and finally in French.
"Attention!" The loud bellow quickly saw every single polished combat boot stomp down on the pavement and all the troops come to attention in their lines. With that the crowd also went very quiet indeed, watching.
Powell, Castañeda and Dallaire as one ripped off perfect salutes to their commanders, which were similarly returned by the commanders.
And then a surprise happened.
The choice of who would formally speak of presenting the troops to the commanders had been left up to the Generals, but Powell and Castañeda had insisted that Dallaire, who both considered one of the finest men to ever live, be the one to do the formal speaking. This surprised more than a few in the crowd and television commentators, who expected the publicity-loving Powell to do it himself, but soon everyone understood why. Dallaire stepped forward to the three leaders, speaking directly to them though aware many were watching.
"President Robertson, President Pena Nieto, Prime Minister MacKay, I present to you the armed forces of the United States of America, the United Mexican States and the Canadian Federation, in the city of San Antonio, Texas, in the honour of the great events of this place one hundred and fifty years ago, on the date of the Fifth of May, Eighteen Sixty-Four, and in the great events of all of the times since, across our nations and across our planet." Dallaire's short statement was followed by one more unified stomp of the boot and absolutely-perfect salutes, this time including Powell and Castañeda. Dallaire joined their salutes, which for a second time were returned by Robertson, Pena Nieto and MacKay. The American President answered Dallaire.
"On behalf of the people of the State of Texas and the people of the United States of America, I accept your arrival and that of your troops, General Dallaire." She paused very briefly. "Welcome to the free city of San Antonio, and know that your troops are the proud inheiritants of so many years of honor and courage of so many in the United States, Mexico and Canada, proud traditions that I stand before you today and swear that they will be upheld for many years to come, for they are the shared beliefs of all of our peoples, shared beliefs that reside in the hearts and minds of us all, the beliefs that have brought so much of what is great among us and so much of what history will be written by us all in the times to come." Robertson finished her statement to the loud applause of the crowd watching, though the troops hadn't been dismissed and thus they stayed quiet. Both MacKay and Pena Nieto were among those applauding though.
Just as the President finished speaking a familiar noise was heard - the noise of jet engines, signifying the arrival of supersonic aircraft. The crowd and the leaders looked up as a set of jets flew overhead - a trio of fighter jets, one each of the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps, with a three separate trios behind them - one trio of US Air Force F-16Cs in the middle, Royal Canadian Air Force CF-185 Typhoons to the left and Fuerza Aerea Mexicana F-15 Eagles to the right, each trio venting smoke in the colors of their nation - for the Americans it was red, white and blue, the Mexicans red, white and green and the Canadians red and white, with the white in the middle. The fighters drew a titanic roar from the crowd, as did what followed - a trio of helicopters flying side by side, each one flying a massive flag of their respective nations. The helicopters drew a spontaneous salute from the soldiers that the generals and the leaders all very quickly followed, the crowd roaring its approval even louder.
Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
May 5, 2014
"And may we celebrate another 150 years of friendship, prosperity and the best pan dulce and maple syrup the world has to offer." The Mexican Ambassador to Canada finished his speech to a round of applause, his last line resulting in more than a little bit of laughter from the crowd and the VIPs, who true to form had more than a few flags of all three nations being worn as everything from flags worn around the upper torso to the shirts of those attending ceremonies. The Mayor of Toronto and the Premier of Ontario had both gone with just a pin that showed the flags of the three nations, but the ambassador had gone with the loud shirt of the Mexican flag with each arm of the shirt showing the flags of Canada and the United States, which somehow didn't seem horribly tacky on this day. The crowd in front of him boasted more than a few Mexican flags flying from it, joining the red-and-white maple leaf of Canada and the stars and stripes of the United States, and it impressed the ambassador that the English and French of Toronto had been joined in modern times by far more than a little Spanish, and Spanish of the Mexican kind, which included more than a few words and influences brought on by Mexico's vast number of indigenous people - a vast number and proud history shared with Canada, he had come to learn over his time in Canada. It meant a lot to him that that was so, as it meant that the country would be most likely to respect those who sought answers from a past not just of a colonial nature.
For the crowd, indeed Spanish was probably the third-most spoken language in the big city of Toronto in modern times - though Hindi and Chinese would give it a run for its money - and the city in modern times had grown a Latin Quarter, joining up with its ever-so-many ethnic neighborhoods - Chinatown, Little Italy, First Nations City, Navi Mumbai, Greektown, Little Tokyo - and the smaller sections built by dozens of ethnic arrivals from across the world. Even amongst the glass towers filled with the halls of commerce were so many smaller businesses and new arrivals to a nation where entrepreneurship was a way of life, and few residential neighborhoods weren't laced with commercial properties meant for the vast number of shops and stores, restaurants, bars, galleries, cafes, designers and studios that made for a city - indeed a nation - filled with a rich history that nevertheless was still an open book, a book that anyone who had the courage, smarts and perseverance could write their own chapter in.
The crowd reflected that. From all kinds of backgrounds, they together proudly spoke and demonstrated their own backgrounds, but still proudly showed off the flags and cultures of their adopted land even as they created new cultures of their own. Toronto was famous for its street food and seemingly-endless collection of restaurants of every type, but today the same people who operated all of those different places occupied the square with the maple leaf painted onto their faces and emblazoned on their shirts, proudly showing off their love of the adopted homeland. There were symbols that made Canada, things that Canadians shared that very much were a part of the culture that newcomers soon experienced for themselves, and far more often than not came to enjoy. A land that was built by outdoorsmen and with a love for winter sports like hockey had brought into itself lands that many of its residents wouldn't know what a hockey stick was if they were handed one, but the symbols had come to them too. The red jackets of the members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police who were the honor guard for the events of today and the proud dress uniforms of the Canadian Armed Forces, the history of both forces being such vast books in their own right - The Philippines, two World Wars, Vietnam, the Middle East and most of all the wars in America, Mexico and Texas that had taken three very disparate nations and forged them into three brothers so united that two would fight all the way to hell for the third. The love of the outdoors meshed so beautifully with the new sports that so many played - rugby, cricket, basketball, football - while the symbols of the past that were in so many minds almost a religion of their own meshed with the new designs of clothing, jewelry, architecture and home designs, the incredible advancement of science and technology and the new languages and skin tones brought by newcomers. The coffee runs that were an indispensable part of Canadian mornings had become the preserve of so many coffee growers in Mexico, Jamaica and Trinidad, while the foods that were a part of Canadian culture - from the famous ones like poutine, Montreal smoked meat, Nanaimo bars, pemmican, smoked salmon and back bacon to much more regional ones like cretons, British Columbia sushi, fish and brewis, Calgary-style ginger beef, Jamaican patties, ackee and saltfish, rotis and cassava - had long since been adapted by the newcomers, though always in a respectful fashion. Likewise, Canadians who went from the famous Caribbean islands behaved in a respectful manner, a habit shared with those who went in the opposite direction.
Wealth hadn't changed any of that. Canadians were regarded as incredibly polite and kind people that, if you got them angry enough, would become the single worst enemies one could make, a view that was for the most part true. Now stewards one of the world's richest nations, a virtual treasure house of natural resources, creators of incredible technologies and possessing a remarkable level of design prowess, they believed in the desire to make the world a better place using those resources, technologies, design prowess and wealth. The people of their nation, now over a third of which were people of colour - over two-fifths if you counted Native Canadians as people of colour, which many did - reflected this, and their commercial capital reflected this "make good the world" philosophy.
Towers of glass built in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s stood shoulder to shoulder with Art Deco, Beaux-Arts and Colonial structures of earlier times, while the city's vast collection of medium-height rows of stores that lined major streets still dominated those streets, though the towers of modern times took up what room was behind them. Despite the wealth of the nation allowing just about anyone who wanted to to drive an automobile, the city operated a vast mass transit system that ran 24 hours a day and was always very well patronized, and the city's apartments virtually always included spare rooms for one to engage in hobbies. The city rarely missed an opportunity to do things the right way - Highways built underground so as to not ruin neighborhoods, a streetcar barn, a quarry complex and a distillery complex turned into arts districts, a coal-fired power plant turned into a movie studio, a collection of low-rise commercial buildings built into the facade of a shopping mall, a beautiful Beaux-Arts municipal office turned into the entrance for the new City Hall, a major hockey arena built over top of Union Station's trainshed, the sign of a famed music store turned into a sign for a major nightclub, streetcars kept on city streets out of a desire to not spend a vast sum of money to little benefit that had turned first into a city hallmark (and then seeing the network of them explode in size in the 1980s, 90s and 2000s), dirt dug out from the building of skyscrapers and apartment towers used to create a collection of pools along the lakefront that were converted into ice rinks in the winter, a baseball stadium built with a retractable roof to allow the weather to not stop games. Shopping malls doubled as transit terminals and were built with extensive interior amenities and towering multistory parking garages, and in later times had numerous office towers and apartment buildings built into them. The city's downtown sported a vast collection of tunnels and bridges between buildings, and these included many of the older buildings too. The city kept a vast collection of industrial complexes which employed armies of workers on the city's outskirts, connected directly to highways so as to keep trucks off of many city streets. Construction projects had fences built around mature trees on the edges of the site so that they wouldn't be wrecked by construction machinery and the city's repair crews including "flying squads" whose job was to quickly get jobs done in short periods of time to reduce the effect on traffic.
The city's residents added to the desires to getting jobs done right. The buildings that lined streets were usually kept clean and well-trimmed, with restaurant patios on many roads taking up what would otherwise be parking spaces - and on some stretches of road, this takeover was entirely deliberate. The city's steep land prices, high demand and huge customer numbers meant in many places the businesses took up every inch of space possible, and they spread out onto rooftop patios and overhangs, into backyards, and out onto streetscapes. Street food vendors took over some parking lots, while parking garages operated by the city and some companies grew the land space available. Laneways and alleyways provided space for smaller residential units that proved invaluable for many newcomers to the city, in addition to smaller residential units built above storefronts. The countless stores selling second-hand clothing meant that those of wealth made it possible for those of lesser means to dress well also, and rare was the office worker who dared to go to work without a suit - though those in more style-oriented and creative industry jobs sometimes got a pass on this. Toronto's vast car scene was driven by its wealth and its excellent mass transit system, which allowed many to do without an every day car, allowing them to put their wealth and enthusiasm into the fun car. The spare rooms meant that people had choices for their choices for hobbies and there was no shortage of stores to fill any possible need for hobby, and in a city the size of Toronto there was little lacking for customers.
While Toronto was very much a work-first kind of city, on this day there was little work to be had, primarily because anyone with a brain knew what May 5 meant, especially what this May 5 meant. The Prime Minister was in San Antonio, and for this day there was special displays and events galore, perhaps this no more shown off than by the massive Canadian Army M1CA Kodiak main battle tank sitting at the center of the Canadian Army display, or by the showoff that had happened earlier in the day, where fighters of the three nations' air forces had flown in formation - a JAS 39 Gripen of the Fuerza Aerea Mexicana and a F-15E Strike Eagle of the United States Air Force had flown on either side of a Royal Canadian Air Force F-22A Raptor over the city of Toronto, showing off to the people of the city. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police were fully turned out for their exhibition, their famous bright-red tunics, oxblood riding boots, Sam Browne belts and campaign hats being a symbol any Canadian - and a vast number of people of the other two nations - would recognize, and their cars out for exhibition included their motorcycle units, specialized pursuit units and special service vehicles.
Outside of the vast party in the city center, there was many that respected the holiday of Cinco De Mayo and what it meant even in Canada. Whether it was enjoyment of Mexican food - and actual Mexican food, as few in Toronto had time for the sorts of garbage the likes of Taco Bell called food at the best of times - or enjoying the sorts of dances and celebrations that came from the most southerly of the Three Amigos (Parts of the Latin Quarter along Eglinton Avenue East were lined with dance studios, whose parties on Cinco De Mayo were famous in Toronto), setting up vast numbers of block parties (another summer tradition in Toronto), practicing their Spanish speaking abilities (more than a few transplants from Mexico or Latin America were only too happy to both chuckle at and then help them with) or for those who felt a need to recognize their faith, travels to the religious institutions.
The massive Anglican Cathedral Of Saint Alban The Martyr, the almost-as-big Temple of the Jewish Faith In Toronto, located a few blocks from each other on Bloor Street, and the towering Roman Catholic Cathedral Of Saint John, which faced towards the incredible Kateri Tekakwitha Park Of the First Nations across Dufferin Street (and had been built with a bridge across the busy street and with the road dug down so as to allow one to go directly from the park to the Cathedral - this is Toronto, after all) were all filled to their capacity today, honoring both their faith and all of those lost in Canada's conflicts from the North American War onward. The words were different but the devotion was the same, and the colors were wildly different across the parishioners of the Christian churches. Likewise, the city's giant cenotaph, located in the sizable oval behind Queens Park (The provincial legislature), held its one of its twice annual ceremonies - the other was November 11 - to honour Canada's war dead. It was another of the many ways if recognizing Canada's past, which for the more modest was often the goal of Cinco De Mayo. The city's countless congregations of Orthodox Christians, Mormons and countless other Christian denominations, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Shintos and numerous other religions all took part in many of the same ceremonies - for many, being Canadian meant that whether their forebears had been involved in Canada's conflicts or not, it was worth respecting the sacrifices of those that had, and whose lives had been sacrificed for the nation that they called home today.