Los Niños Héroes
Mexico has known many heroes through her long and
eventful history. Perhaps none have captured the
imagination and stirred the hearts to the degree that
Los Niños Héroes (Heroic Children) have. In 1847, six
brave young men fought valiantly for their country
during the Mexican-American War. Tragically, they died
defending her honor.
Ranging in age from just 13 to 19 years of age, these
military cadets are remembered today with reverence
and national pride. A great monument erected in their
honor, Los Niños Héroes Monument, stands proudly at
the entrance to Chapultepec Park in Mexico City. This
historical memorial is visited by thousands of Mexican
citizens and foreign travelers each year.
The Mexican-American War was in its final chapters
when the Battle of Chapultepec took place. The date
was September 13, 1847 and American forces were
quickly advancing on Chapultepec Castle. General
Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, who was in charge of
forces in Mexico City, recognized the strategic
advantage that Chapultepec Hill held. Geographically,
its value was enormous as it position protected Mexico
City on its west side from invaders.
Los Ni�os H�roes|
Unfortunately, there were not enough resources
available for its defense. Rising some 200 feet above
the surrounding landscape, the site was naturally
fortified. However, American forces greatly
outnumbered their Mexican counterparts, both in
manpower and gunpowder. Many prominent Americans,
including Abraham Lincoln and John Quincy Adams
considered the war unjust and questioned the rationale
for the invasion.
In the years preceding the war, Chapultepec Castle had
been utilized as Mexico�s military training academy.
As a result, when the war broke out, there were dozens
of teenage cadets in attendance. General Nicol�s Bravo
commanded the forces stationed at Chapultepec Hill and
when it became apparent that the American forces were
triumphing, he ordered his men, including the cadets,
to retreat to safety.
Six young men, however, refused to relinquish their
posts and bravely met the superior forces of the
Americans. Their names were Juan de la Barrera, Juan
Escutia, Francisco M�rquez, Agust�n Melgar, Fernando
Montes de Oca and Vicente Su�rez. They died that
September day, defending their country. Their
sacrifice has been forever etched into Mexico�s
The names of the six military cadets live on in Mexico
today. Streets have been named after them, as have
schools and public squares. Their faces have appeared
on Mexican currency and even Mexico City�s public
transportation (Metro Ni�os H�roes) has been named in
Monument to Los Ni�os Heroes in Chapultepec Park - postcard from 1940's||
One of the cadets, Juan Escutia, is believed to have
wrapped himself in the Mexican flag before jumping to
his death. A great mural of this scene can be seen
today at Chapultepec Castle. One thing is certain, all
these young men died defending their country�s honor.
The great monument of Los Ni�os H�roes is a tribute to
their memory and sacrifice.
President Harry S. Truman visited the Los Ninos Heroes
monument in 1947, just months prior to the 100th
anniversary of the Battle of Chapultepec. A moment of
reverential silence was observed by the President as a
sign of respect for the young cadets. When Truman was
asked by reporters why he stopped to see the monument,
his reply was �Brave men don�t belong to any one
country. I respect bravery wherever I see it�.