Pamela Powers Hannley, a progressive voice for Arizona
Personal memorial shrines are not seen much in the part of the country where I grew up. Giant, gleaming white Calvinistic crosses, yes. Individual shrines with statues, candles, flowers, momentos, not so much (or at least not outside of the cemetery).
In the 30 years that I have lived in Tucson, I have grown to value and admire this cultural tradition. Some shrines around town– like the one on Greasewood near Pima College, the ghost bike at Mountain and Fort Lowell, the magnificent display for Gabrielle Giffords in front of UMC, and others– are unique, well-maintained remembrances.
The Carlos Lamadrid Shrine, erected by the US-Mexico border fence where he was shot to death, is particularly poignant. I don’t know much about Carlos except what I have read in the newspaper. He was a 19-year-old, Latino community college student who grew up in Douglas and was in the wrong place at the wrong time with a large quantity of marijuana.
Carlos is one of hundreds of people who have died on the US-Mexico border. Crossers, drug mules, gangsters, cartel customers, ranchers, border patrol agents, children… all gone.
The Border Patrol wants Carlos’ family to remove the shrine near Douglas obstensibly to rebuild the fence. I think they want that shrine gone because they want everyone to forget about Carlos and the lives lost on the border.
What if everyone who lost a loved one on the border erected a shrine along the border fence? Think about it. Hundreds of shrines, thousands of flowers, photos, candles, momentos. What a beautiful remembrance and poignant message that would be.
Death on the border is not about drugs, money, security, jobs or violence; it’s about life on the border.