History and Contributions of New Mexicans in the Spanish American War

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Melanie LaBorwit, past Museum Director of the City of Las Vegas (NM) Museum and Rough Rider Memorial Collection, provides an overview of the Spanish American War during Historic Fairview Cemetery’s Veterans’ Day observations on November 11, 2021.

Some of the information in this video includes:

Teddy Roosevelt recruited a number of cowboys from New Mexico, Arizona and the Oklahoma territories to be Rough Riders. He also used his Ivy League connections to recruit polo players from Harvard and Yale. The Rough Rider uniforms were designed by Brooks Brothers.

Col. Leonard Wood was a physician who led the first foreign intervention by U.S. troops. He also pioneered the use of quinine to address tropical diseases.

Unfortunately, the troop ships to Cuba and Puerto Rico couldn’t take most of the horses, and many Rough Riders had to walk and bushwhack their way on foot.

You can identify Spanish American War veterans headstones by the badge insignia design carved into the marble. A large group of veterans came to New Mexico to live after the war. As a result, a number of the veterans of this war buried in Historic Fairview Cemetery came from other states such as Illinois.

The largest reunion of Rough Riders took place in Las Vegas, New Mexico in 1899. They camped out in Roosevelt Park. The 50th annual reunion took place in 1949.

Several cocktails came out of the Spanish American War: the Cuba Libre (rum and Coke), the Bloody Mary (tomato juice, vodka, and Tabasco Sauce (made by the McIlheny Company) – members of the McIlheny family served as Rough Riders!), and the Daiquiri (lime/lemons, rum, sugar, mineral water, ice). Another drink evolved later called Remember The Maine, after the ship that exploded in Havana harbor that prompted the U.S. involvement in the Spanish American War. That drink is made with rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, Cherry Heering and absinthe.

Historic Fairview Cemetery is located at 700 Yale Blvd. SE, Albuquerque, New Mexico. @Gail Rubin is the president of the organization that shares history through the lives of those buried there and helps maintain the grounds. You can make a tax-deductible donation to the nonprofit organization that works to maintain the grounds and share its history here:

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