Being a native Arizonan, Cinco de Mayo has always been just another excuse to get together with Hispanic friends for some tasty authentic Mexican food. But what exactly does Cinco de Mayo commemorate? In short, it's a celebration of the vastly outnumbered Mexican army's victory in a hard-fought battle with Napoleon III’s French forces on May 5, 1862, at the Battle of Puebla. Napoleon III had sent an army to Mexico to collect on a Mexican debt to France. He also had plans to establish an empire in Mexico that would favor French interests. Although the victory didn’t change the outcome of the war, it did provide a boost to the army and people of Mexico and helped to unite the country.