Few monuments or memorials honor American military service in the Mexican-American War. There is no national monument that currently represents this conflict in our nation’s capital of Washington, D.C. that signifies the sacrifices of American personnel in the conflict. The lack of recognition may be due to the partisan political divide before, during and after the war. In time, the prevailing narrative emerged that the Mexican-American War was viewed as unnecessary.
Many Mexicans view the hostility as the U.S. War of Aggression where they lost almost 25,000 troops and civilians and 525,000 square miles of territory. A dispute that began over the boundaries of Texas ended with Mexico forfeiting much of present-day California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, and parts of Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Wyoming to the United States.
The Mexico City National Cemetery is one place where Americans can come visit to honor those who served and died in the Mexican-American War. The cemetery holds the remains of 750 of the 13,200 American servicemen whose lives were sacrificed during the 1846-1848 conflict.
Three years after the war, two acres of land in Mexico City were purchased by the American government. The land was secured to bury the remains of U.S. soldiers killed in and around the city. Soldiers were recovered from shallow battlefield graves and given a proper burial in the cemetery.
The cemetery lay undisturbed until 1976, when the Mexican government reduced the size to construct a highway. The walls of the newly configured cemetery contain crypts for the civilians. Two vaults in the center of the southern grounds hold the remains of the 750 American soldiers. Above their vaults the inscription reads:
To the honored memory
of 750 Americans
known but to God
whose bones collected
by their country’s order
are here buried.
In 1947, President Truman transferred care of the Mexico City National Cemetery from the War Department to the American Battle Monuments Commission.
Today, in the heart of a metropolitan area of more than 20 million people, this one-acre cemetery and monument offers peace and remembrance. It is an elegant and unpretentious place for all those who seek reflection about the people who gave their lives in service of their country during the Mexican-American War.