My inspiration at the time of that original post was something in the church bulletin at St. Michael's, promoting an event sponsored by some of the local humanitarian groups dedicated to stopping the needless deaths in the desert. One such annual event is the annual Día de los Muertos Pilgrimage. Tying in with the annual "Day of the Dead" celebration, people carry small wooden crosses across the desert, each representing one of the people whose remains were found in the desert over the past year. This year, the 8.2 mile walk was from St. John's Church at 12th and Ajo Way to Mission San Xavier Del Bac. Having done so much walking this past year, I was able to participate for the first time today.
Despite painstaking forensic tests to identify each person, the names of over half of them will never be known. Sometimes it is not even possible to determine whether the few bones found are male or female. So while some of the crosses have the name and age of a specific person written on them, most say Desconocido (meaning "unidentified male"), Desconocida (meaning "unidentified female"), or even Desconocido/a (meaning "unidentified male or female").
Even though "only" 179 people died over the past year, a great improvement over the year when I wrote my original blog post, there were far more crosses than walkers to bear them. Nearly everyone carried at least two, some as many as six or eight of them. I chose one with a name, Fernando Vasquez-Casteneda, age 29, and one of the many Desconocidos.
Ila Abernathy from St. Michael's also carried one of the crucifixes from St. Michael's, wrapped with a textile banner from one of her many trips to Guatemala. Robin Donaldson and Margie, a St. Michael's parishioner whose last name I don't know, also walked today.
I forgot to bring my portable charger, so my phone ran out of battery before the 7 mile mark. By then we were on Mission Road.