Source: Conversations (1999)
Remembering the UCA Martyrs: 10 Years Later
Written by: Dean Brackley, S.J.
This November marks ten years since soldiers entered the campus of the Universidad Centroamericana (UCA) in San Salvador in the middle of the night and murdered six Jesuits, a domestic employee, and her young daughter.
Every November 15 since then, thousands of campesinos and workers, mothers and fathers and young people fill up the UCA campus. They light up the night with candles and song. After the outdoor Eucharist, they stay for tamales and coffee to sing and dance and catch up with old friends until dawn.
Those who gather understand the importance of remembering. Some in El Salvador simply want to bury the horrors and the heroes of recent history, to blot out the past in order to shape the future in their interest. But those who suffered most need to remember, and at the UCA we insist that the November festivities commemorate all the martyrs of El Salvador, not just those who died at the UCA.
Remembering heals old wounds. The martyrs–those who bore witness to the truth and paid the price–engender hope and a sense of direction in times of discouragement and disorientation. They continue to challenge us. A regular stream of foreign visitors reminds us that the martyrs inspire people beyond El Salvador as well.
Ten years later their story is worth re-telling.