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Archbishop Romero Remembered

DALLAS - The weather turned unseasonably cool on March 21, and most North Texas activists were exhausted from anti-war demonstrations the previous day, but 60 of them turned out, nevertheless, for a candlelight vigil in front of the Guadalupe Cathedral in downtown Dallas. Their purpose was to commemorate April 24, 1980 - one of our hemisphere's darkest days. It was the day that Archbishop Oscar Romero was gunned down in San Salvador.

Two new organizations had come together to set up the vigil. The Committee for Economic Justice had formed from a group who went to Central America last summer on a tour sponsored by the Maryknoll Catholics. They came back determined to fight against globalization and oppression. United Voices for Immigrants was formed to breath new life into the immigrants' rights movement.Many of the vigil participants were Central Americans. Those who were immigrants brought their children, so that they might know about the Archbishop and about the terrible repression that their parents had escaped when they came to this country.

Almost everyone, Anglos and Latinos, had a story to tell. Duane Ediger translated while people told how Romero had affected their lives and how his death had changed them forever.Archbishop Romero had delivered his homilies on radio, participants said, and everyone in El Salvador had stopped to listen. He had just issued a plea, and then a demand, that the mass killing of innocent civilians be stopped. As he delivered his next homily in the national cathedral, a sniper shot him through the open doors. Three days later, according to one participant who was there, people gathered for his funeral despite warnings. Many of them were murdered in the National Plaza. Others, especially young people, were trucked away to never be seen again.

Participants on the sidewalk in Dallas went on to blame the United States government under Ronald Reagan for assisting the Salvadoran murderers. They blamed the School of the Americas for training Central American murderers in this country. They talked about repression in other parts of the Americas and the leading role of the U.S. in each of them. They thanked the North Americans who were shivering in the cold with them, and they thanked the many more who stood up for peace throughout the world. They talked about remembering Oscar Romero, and about continuing to follow his brave example. Young Salvadoran women sang songs of peace and Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador.