Today, nearly 20,000 gathered at the gates of Ft. Benning Georgia to remember the martyrs of Central America, especially Jesuits murdered in 1989 in El Salvador at the hands of those trained with U.S tax dollars at the School of the Americas.
The annual vigil was today in Georgia- a walk of several hours to the tune of a litany of a thousands of names (a small representation of lives lost) during various civil wars and revolutions in Central America in the 80s. It was not just a funeral march, but a renewal of the call the justice.
Luisa Vala, Rogelia Aguila, and Jesus Villanueva lost thier lives 2 weeks ago in Santa Maria de La Esperanza, Santiago Texacuangos, El Salvador, not because of a natural disaster. They died because they were poor. They died because there is no territorial zoning in El Salvador, because they fled thier homes in Chalatenango during the 80s to take refuge on a mountainside that would later fall upon them and crumble thier temporary housing that due to poverty, became thier permanent home. This does not have to happen.
However amidst lives lost, we must celebrate those who work for justice. I rested today, but students from Brebeuf Highschool, Santa Clara University, Notre Dame, and 20,00 others in solidarity with Salvadorans marched in Georgia. The FMLN of Santaigo Texacuangos traveled to San Martin, another area affected by the landslides, to clear the road. We are all called to justice, and it takes many forms. These have been some of the many faces of justice for me the past 2 weeks.
Meet the "guerreros" of FMLN Santiago Texacuangos, who hike supplies out daily. Unlike me, who took the day off today, they worked from dawn to dusk clearing roads so aid could arrive to a town not thier own. They volunteer every single day, with no pay. They continuing walking and working. Juan Carlos (32); Roberto (35); Max (16); Cesar (16) And Jiro (15)- photo left. Meet Lupo (in the cowboy hat.) who woke up at 6am after only 3 hours of sleep because he has to take advantage of a 60 hour work week to make enough to keep his daughter in school. Lupo woke up at 6am so he could drive me and donations from Seattle U out to the field before he had to continue his work of driving trucks at 8am. Meet the Brebeuf delegation to the SOA protest- who traveled from Indianapolis to Georgia to learn, to remember, to plead our government to stop supporting wars that kill the innocent in the name of democracy. On the right in the yellow is Connie Tellman (my mother) who is responsible for soliciting thousands of our donations, but who spent 3 hours of the phone convincing paypal that we were actually helping people and not some sort of sick scam. The picture below on the cross on the fence is Father Paul O'Brien, Sj (known as Father Obie to most); who has walked for justice all over the world until his death from heart attack on a walk to organize an SOAW Indiana meeting in 2005. Finally, Lolli, in the pink shirt, has been coordinating relief in Santiago Texacuangos daily from 6am-10pm with not a day of rest. He she is helping me understand the situation of communities in Las Cruces, who have had NO AID, until we brought food and water this saturday- the first food and water nearly 30 families had seen in 2 weeks. I hope this weekend we remember the example of those who died for justice. But I also hope we recognize the living who work for justice everyday. I am overwhemled with the magnitude of suffering and injustice at this entire situation. But I am equally overwhelmed in the next instant with the over powering genorsity and resilience of humanity. Those who donate to rebuild lives thousands of miles away, those who speak for justice and organize workshops (shout out to jenna knapp and jen latimer- who brought the story of salvadoran to the Ignatian Family Teach In), the 10 psychologists from Pro-Buesqueda who came to Santa Maria today to help the community emotionally heal. Presente! with us are the dead, but Presente! continue the living, and we will, and we must, walk ahead for justice.