Friday, November 2, was the Dia de los Difuntos, or the Day of the Dead in El Salvador. Families traveled to cemeteries across the country, where they cleaned and decorated with flowers the gravesites of deceased family members. I have written about this colorful commemoration of the departed in prior years.
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.
On Saturday, November 3, I was present at the wall with two mothers of who had lost multiple sons during the war. The sorrow and the dignity of these mothers was profound. Twenty years after the end of El Salvador's bloody conflict, some wounds are far from healed.