The Batman premier in Denver, Colorado shook the world. Sitting in a restaurant in Argentina watching the news, I saw the headline in Spanish, “Masacre en un Cine” (Massacre en a Movie Theater). The subtitle went on to explain that people 12 died. Thoughts of condolences flooded my mind as I tried to take in this event. I soon realized this event took place in Denver, Colorado, U.S.A., my home country. This tragedy quickly found sympathizers around the world. Moments of heartbreak force us to confront our feelings. Consciously or not, many people live by the motto “ignorance is bliss.” In reality, ignorance is by definition: “The condition of being uneducated, unaware, or uniformed.” If “knowledge is power”, ignorance is weakness.
Spending time outside of my familiar life has allowed me to grow immensely. In this time of heightened sensitivity, my profound reflective processing of the world occurs frequently. Now is a time of action for me. Worrying wastes effort. I can use this energy to live a fuller life instead. Life is short. Living in a society that emphasizes being youthful causes many people to deny this fact, but numerous cases including myself testify this reality with our lives that have come within hours of not existing on this earth any more. I now use my story to encourage people to not waste their lives. Take advantage of our unique ability to live every moment to the fullest. I strive to live in the present and prepare for the future.
Recently, an experience here confronted me and my knowledge of the world. We visited “Museo de la Memoria” (Museum of the Memory). This building is dedicated to remembrance of the “Dirty War” that happened in Argentina very recently. So recently in fact, effects of the government genocide still resonate today. I can’t explain the whole tragedy, but as I walk through parts of the museum, information about the disappearance of tens of thousands of people will be revealed.
The “Museum of the Memory” is located right across the street from where I have classes in the morning. Every day, I look out the window at this beautiful building. After class, we walk across the street close enough to touch the white fringe of the museum as we go to lunch next store. For weeks, I walked by this building impressed by its beauty, but completely unaware of its ugly past. For 25 years, this building acted as a place of military power for the 2nd Army Corps. Government officials sat in its rooms craftily plotting the extermination of over 30,000 of its own citizens. In 1976, suspected opponents of the government began to “disappear”. They were kidnapped from their homes in the middle of the night and taken to detention centers to be tortured and killed. Some people tried to flee the country, but they government would easily capture them when they applied for a passport. One of the first cases was a lady who handed her baby to a friend and walked into the building to get her passport. She was never seen again. Instead, a military officer walked out and asked where they child of the lady that walked in was. Her friend said, “Here”. The officer took the baby inside and it was never seen again either.
A painting of one of the Mothers of the Plaza’s scarf.
One of the first places we saw in the Museum was “Round”. This piece symbolizes the marches of the “Madres de la Plaza de Mayo” (Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo). Soon after the disappearing started, people realized loved ones were missing. Some of these victims even pregnant women and babies. Some of these babies were illegally given to other families of government sympathizers with forged adoption papers. The mothers and grandmothers gathered in protest in the Plaza de Mayo, which is directly in front of the “Casa Rosada” (Pink house), which is equivalent to the United States’ White House. There were laws against loitering. The mothers would get in trouble of standing, so they started to march. This march of resistance to the last military dictatorship continues on today every Thursday. They wear white scarves on their heads symbolizing their missing babies’ diapers. I fortunately witnessed this march when I visited the Plaza de Mayo in Buenos Aires.
The Mothers of the Plaza still marching 35 years later.
A memorial for those who have been found lays as a puzzle on one of the walls of the museum. One wall represents people those that have found their true identity; the other wall those who have an identity, but remain lost. Many people come to this museum if they have doubts about their identity or want help finding a loved one. The search to find even more of the disappeared continues. Many people travel to the museum to see the name of their loved ones on the “Pillars of Memory”. These are large metal pillars engraved with the names of known victims. The last sections of the pillars remain free, so that names of those who continue to be found can be added.
Emily looking at the “Pillars of Memory”.
This experience presented so much information and raw emotion to take in. I still grapple with the feeling given to me walking through this place of remembrance. I had to record this feeling and share this information with the world. I know that I did not address everything. I hope that if you have questions about anything, you will investigate them more for yourself. Do not allow yourself to be ignorant of the events around the world and in your community. There is strength in numbers. Building connections and unifying with one another, we can accomplish more than we ever thought possible. I would not be where I am today without the support of many. We were not made to live this life alone. By design, humans long to be in relationship. During this Olympic time, countrymen gather to support their home lands. Let us not forget that we all share a global community. This museum is part of the collation for human rights around the world not only in Argentina. If nothing else, remember. Don’t forget the victims and their families. I support the recognition of the victims of Denver shooting. So many times the killers become famous when we should remember the heroes!
This blog is in memory of:
Jessica Ghawi, 24
Veronica Moser, 6
Matt McQuinn, 27
Alex Sullivan, 27
Micayla Medek, 23
John Larimer, 27
Jesse Childress, 29
Gordon W. Cowden, 51
Jonathan T. Blunk, 26
Rebecca Ann Wingo, 32
Alexander C. Teves, 24
Alexander J. Boik, 18