Thursday, November 10, 2011

Las Salas de Moctezuma

Today is the 236th birthday of the United States Marine Corp. When we think of Mexico and Marines, we think of one thing.

- Lee Harvey Oswald?

Well, okay, two things: Lee Harvey Oswald, yes, and also the "Marine Corps Hymn," (lyricist unknown; music stolen, ironically, from a French opera) which begins "From the Halls of Montezuma / To the shores of Tripoli.." The line is a reference to the Mexican-American War's (or, as they call it here, the US Invasion's) Battle of Chapultepec, in which Gen. Scott's forces - which included some Marines - prevailed, despite outnumbering the Mexicans by a mere 4-to-1, even counting Mexico's child-soldiers.  160 years later, the Marines are still gloating.

Which is fine.  Here's our question though - and it's a sincere question, which we're sure our readers better-versed in history than we are can answer: what, literally, are the "halls of Montezuma"?  The Marines say it refers to Chapultepec Castle ("After two days of battle, the Marines gained control of the castle, better known as the 'Halls of Montezuma.'") Other, less authoritative sources say it refers to the Palacio Nacional or the Zocalo ("Quitman’s men... took the Mexican National Plaza, where before had stood the Halls of Montezuma"). 

But we've given the Google machine a good workout, searching in English and Spanish for any reference to these places or any other location being "better known as the 'Halls of Montezuma'" in any context other than in the Marine Corps Hymn, and have come up empty.  So we toss it out to the Teaming Millions:  Montezuma (Moctezuma II) died over 200 years before work was started on the Chapultepec Castle.  Why would it be "better known as" the Halls of Montezuma? Or is this just some made-up shit? 


Scott T said...

another breathtaking example of the USA simply making things up when it comes to our neighbor to the south.

Crazy Rita said...

My boy is an expert in this area since my son attended the Marine Military Academy (conscripted by his father) and we celebrated the big birthday ball every year. The Halls of Montezuma is simply a reference that the castle stands on the former grounds of the Aztecs and everyone knows what happened to Montezuma. But then the former Marines at the Academy were the biggest bunch of bullshitters I've ever met (and I say that affectionately).

Burro Hall said...

I get what the reference means. My question is, has anyone other than the Marines ever referred to it by that name, or did they just make it up? I could just start calling Reynosa "The Halls of Crazyritaville," but I'd be wrong to say that's what it's "better known as."

I assume that, for centuries, people have referred to the shores of Tripoli as "the shores of Tripoli." I'n Not so sure about the HoM thing.

Crazy Rita said...

Because no native English speaker can pronounce The Halls of Chapultepec so the Marines had to go with Montezuma.