Professor Armando Rendón, coordinator of the Interactive Theater Program, was invited to read his poem, "Ballad of the Batallón San Patricio," at the 11th Annual Irish-Mexican fiesta dinner hosted last month by the Centro Latino de San Francisco and the Irish-Mexican Association. The event commemorates a little-known fact of U.S.history, when in 1847 a battalion of Irishmen fought for Mexico against the U.S.invasion, and also celebrates 164 years of friendship between Ireland and Mexico.

The Ballad of the Batallón San Patricio

By Armando Rendón

‘Tis the ballad of Irishmen seeking a dream;

They had come to America crossing the sea,

Yet were branded and hanged for devotion to truth

And the right as they saw it for men to be free.

 

You’ll remember forever the fabulous name,

Batallón San Patricio, and their well renowned fame.

For forsaking the arms of the tyrant, they instead

Chose the banner of liberty rather than shame.

 

It was eighteen hundred and forty six when first

to the battlelines went the green Irish recruits,

But they questioned at whom their long rifles were aimed

But the captains just said, don’t ask questions, just shoot.

 

They had all left their homes due to hunger and blight.

The dire poverty ravaging Ireland, you see,

Could be traced to relentless injustice and hate

that had tortured the people and forced them to flee.

 

So these valiant young men had believed what they’d heard,

But instead of the freedom they expected to find,

They soon learned that the war against Mexico stank

From the gangrenous greed that can rotten the mind.

 

Politicians and judges and lawyers and such

Had contrived an excuse to attack and to force   

Into war an ill-prepared country, itself

In the midst of dissension, turmoil and worse.

 

It was Manifest Destiny, rallying cry of thieves,

That they shouted in unison, urging on war

to avenge a slight, but ‘twas a lie they blared;

it was land they sought, that fact was clear.

Those fine Irish lads knew naught of this historical web,

But they, when an injustice was rearing its head

went over to Mexico, shed America’s flag,

raised their own banner, and fought for Mexico instead.

 

When the battles were over and surrender was made

The courageous San Patricios’ luck had changed

They had sided with justice, chosen right from wrong—

Yet were branded for treason while dozens were hanged.

 

In the towns and the villages dotting the land

In the hearts and the minds of the people still,

San Patricios are known for their valor and faith;

They are honored as heroes and warriors all.

 

There’s a lesson that history often will tell,

Of the value of honor that’s measured in blood,

The Patricios shed their full measure of truth

When they gave up their lives in witness of good.

 

For what we now all call the American dream,

Thousands of laddies crossed over the sea.

Hundreds paid a priceless coin for their valor:

They were willing to die so we could be free.

 

Enshrined on a simple plaque in Mexico City—

No other mark than their names is needed—

Their sacrifice someday will be known to all,  

And their own battle cry for justice be heeded.

 

Éire go Brách

Copyright 2009 Armando Rendón

 

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