Names on a Wall – Our Visit to a Civil War Memorial

The summer has flown by so fast! Today our last intern is finishing her last day of work. Every year we hope that our interns can learn a little something about El Salvador while they are here, so we try to start the summer off with a short history lesson.

Back in June on a rainy morning we took our kids and our interns to visit the memorial wall in Parque Cuscatlan before heading to the National Cathedral downtown. Our friend Cruz shared some history about the war with our interns. The wall was built to honor the more than 75,000 Salvadorans who were killed during the Salvadoran Civil War in the 80s and early 90s. The memorial is called “Monumento a la Memoria y la Verdad” which means the Monument to Memory and Truth.

It was the first time that our family has visited the wall, despite the fact that we work so close to it. It is just something that we knew was there, but never stopped to experience. I am so glad that this summer we finally did.

That morning was a quiet one in the park. There was a still, soft rain falling so not many people were out. It felt like we were on sacred ground as we approached the monument and began to read the names on the wall. Name after name of murdered Salvadorans. There is a rawness in reading the names. The names of the dead and disappeared are there, and the war is close and real like a wound that is still fresh, and hasn’t really had time to heal.

In many ways, I feel like our life is connected to that wall and the suffering that it represents. We are coming from the outside, and we will never understand all the emotions and pain wrapped up in the war and every symbol of it. I don’t pretend to understand it, but I believe that we are in El Salvador because God placed a call on our lives to heal brokenness and fight for restoration. Much was broken during the war and as I ran my hand over the names etched on that wall I remembered that each life is tied to a family that still grieves and that still suffers.

That suffering and grief has spilled over into the broken families, violence, and abuse which plague the country today. But in that glimpse of a grieving country, I also felt a small hope burning in my heart because I know that God can heal each family that has a name on that wall. He can, and I cling to the hope that one day the rain will clear, and what is wounded and broken will be made whole. Only God can do that, but I thank Him for calling me here and letting me be a small part of what He is doing.


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