Memorial Day 2019 at the American Cemetery

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wreaths
Civilian participation was down and diplomatic representation was downgraded on this overcast morning when the traffic coming into the city was medium-insane, but the number of organizations represented with wreaths was up this year. There were floral offerings from the US Embassy, the American Battle Monumens Commission, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the VFW Auxiliary, Democrats Abroad, Republicans Abroad, the American Society of Panama, the Boy Scouts of America, Harley Davidson Panama, American Legion Post #2, the Association of the US Army, Elks Lodge #1414, the Scottish Rite Bodies, the Abou Saad Shriners, and the Attaché Association. Photo by Eric Jackson.

The collective memory lives

by Eric Jackson

One might talk demographics, or politics, or urban policy, or what’s a holiday and what isn’t in Panama, to explain why this was a Memorial Day with a slightly reduced American civilian turnout and no American ambassador speaking. All of that would be relevant, but it would all be rude, too. This was a day to remember, for both old soldiers and old antiwar protesters, for Americans across the political spectrum and friends of a bunch of other nations to pay homage and take stock of what has gone before. There are other occasions on which to argue about what it all means.

Those of us who showed heard beautiful music from the Bombero Band. We paid special respects to the late Chief Warrant Officer 2 Isaias E. Santos, who died at the controls of an Apache helicopter in Iraq and whose mother was present at the ceremony. We heard the invocation, benediction and prayers of Reverend Key Martin, the reading of the presidential proclamation by US Navy Commander Ivan Villescas, an address by the embassy’s deputy chief of mission Elias Baumann and the words of guest speaker Colonel Javier Cardona

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The Bombero Band’s bagpipers played Amazing Grace before the benediction.

salute

Gold Star mother

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deputy chief of mission

bombera shows respect

hallowed ground
 

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