An altar in LA recalls on the Day of the Dead the little ones who perished on the border

Calvary Cemetery in East Los Angeles is already adorned with more than 70 altars that have the most colorful flowers, confetti, photos, food and objects that honor the lives of thousands of dead.

These are created by family members, organizations and companies that wanted to take a special offering to those who are no longer on earth.

Adjacent to the entrance of the mausoleum is an altar with a special meaning, it was made to honor the memory of children who died in their attempt to cross the US-Mexico border.

Sandra Martínez, a member of the San Carlos Borromeo parish in the city of North Hollywood, said that in her parish since last year they have focused on presenting the terrible situation faced by children trying to reach llegar North ’.

He explained that in 2018 they participated with a float in the pilgrimage of the Virgin of Guadalupe that takes place in East Los Angeles. "Our float included the same theme," he explained.

"We showed something that spoke of justice but under the protection of the Virgin of Guadalupe and put a cage with real children inside that represented the minors in the detention centers," said the volunteer.

Being able to make people aware of such a difficult issue to explain while commemorating religious events was something that the volunteers of the San Carlos Borromeo parish have found very useful.

"That is why this year we wanted to dedicate our altar to children who have died crossing the border and in detention centers," Martínez said.

On the altar was the photograph of Guatemalan Jakelin Caal Maquin, who died at 7 years of age in the custody of the Border Patrol.

Valerie Martínez also appeared, whose image went around the world, after losing her life at 23 months of age with her father after drowning in an attempt to cross the Rio Grande, in Texas.

"We decided to focus on this issue precisely now because we want to tell families that we do not forget them and that they are like the banner of the migration crisis that is lived on the border," said the parishioner.

To celebrate their lives

The Day of the Dead, or the celebration of All Souls Day, is a vibrant tradition based on faith, when the life of the deceased is honored and celebrated through songs, prayers and offerings or altars.

The Catholic religion explains that November 1 is known as the Day of the Innocent Saints in honor of deceased children and November 2 is the Day of the deceased faithful, to honor all adults.

The Calvary cemetery event is an opportunity for families to celebrate a tradition that unites their faith and cultural heritage.

Miguel Navarro (d) decorates an altar dedicated to his father Gonzalo Navarro.
In addition to altars there are also catrinas. / photos: Aurelia Ventura.

Another of the altars that will captivate the attendees is the one dedicated to the victims of shooting massacres and children who have died or have taken their lives because of the bullying and / or abuse of their parents.

Verónica Reyes, spokesman for the communications office for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, said that there will be photos on this community altar of the victims of Wal-Mart in Texas; in addition to that of the boy Diego Stolz, of Moreno Valley who died after being beaten by another student and that of the girl Rosalie Ávila who committed suicide due to bullying in Yucaipa.

"We want them not to be confused, which is not the celebration of holy death or Halloween, we are celebrating not the death but the life of these loved ones who were with us but are now in a better place," Reyes explained.

He added that by presenting and creating altars, families can continue to pass on traditions to their next generations.

He said his father passed away two years ago and because she has instilled in her daughter since she was a child, it was easier for her to accept that her grandfather was no longer with them.

"My daughter knows the transition my father is going through and every year she wants us to make the altar," Reyes said. "It's a way of showing him that we never forget them."

The most important thing on the altars is to use colors and put the deceased's favorite foods as well as objects that represent some of the things they liked most.

“The candles that are the light, the water that represents the baptism, the bread that reminds us of the Eucharist. These are some elements that the altar has and it is not something to be afraid of, ”said Reyes.

Two women decorate the altar of shooting victims in the US.
The main thing for decoration are flowers; In addition to water and candles.

Flora de los Santos is one of the volunteers dedicated to creating the community altar and said she proudly takes her free time to honor the deceased.

"It is important for the whole community to know that we celebrate our ancestors and teach those who were born here the tradition we bring," he said.

The volunteer added that she likes to see when people come to help and that this allows people to admire the altars.

Saturday's event

This is the sixth year of the Day of the Dead celebration at Calvary Cemetery and will begin Saturday starting at 12:00 p.m. with a Mass from the Archbishop José H. Gómez.

Then there will be a procession through the main mausoleum of the cemetery to bless the altars dedicated to deceased loved ones.

Afterwards, participants can enjoy a family celebration with painting of skull faces, folk dancers and Aztec dances.

The exhibition of the altars, is free and open to the public, will be available until November 10.

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