Nov. 2 “Day of the Dead” at the Wall for Memory and Truth

Remembering their loved ones.

The Wall for Memory and Truth was built after a long participative process where names of civilians killed during the conflict of the 1970s and 1980s in El Salvador were collected community by community, family by family and then another long process of raising money to construct this wall and engrave the names was carried out.

The Wall was inaugurated on Nov. 2, 2004, the day George W. Bush was elected for the second time as President of the United States.  A mass was held that day and a microphone was opened for whomever wanted to speak. Many people spoke about how for the first time they had a place to go on the Day of the Dead to honor their loved ones.

I met this man and his 2 children taping fresh and plastic flowers around his father’s name. The man told me his father was a university graduate and member of a university student group and was taken off a bus and put on a truck by the National Guard on December 1, 1980. He  was 2 years old when his father was taken.  Six years ago he put his father’s name on a search in internet and this panel from the Wall for Memory and Truth came up. Ever since then he has come with his children every November 2nd to “be” there with his father.

I asked him if he was proud of his father or if he felt that his father had abandoned him. He said to me: “I am totally proud of my father, 100%, and so are my children. They know the whole story and my son even did a presentation at school saying that his grandfather had been disappeared while struggling for social justice.”

This wall tells part of El Salvador’s story. There are 30,000 names here but there were 80,000 people killed and disappeared. For many people, like the young man I met, there was no place for them to go on November 2nd every year, no place to mourn and honor their loved ones.

They would watch other families leave to spend the day in a cemetery, but they had nowhere to go. This young man waited 26 years and he never forgot his father. With his daughter and son he placed a strip of clear red plastic just over his father’s name and then sat there beside it for quite a long time.

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