Four year old Maya Wood holds a cross bearing the name of one of more than 200 migrants who died trying to cross the Arizona desert this year. Maya was with her mom, Cathy Wood, at the March for Migrants in Tucson, Arizona this afternoon. The march is an annual event held by Humane Borders. This year’s march was not really a march – the Tucson police had some issues with blocking off a lane of traffic or something like that. Instead, after a service in memory of the migrants at First Christian, everyone drove over – funeral-procession style – to the Pima County coroner’s office for a final word of prayer. At the coroner’s office is a refrigerated semi-trailer where 60 bodies are awaiting autopsies.

So far, according to Robin Hoover of Humane Borders, 238 migrants have died this year – another sad new record. That statistic is for the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.

Each year, they have had a march or something to honor and remember the dead. By far the toughest part of the church service is when they read the names. While the names are being read, people come forward and take up the white crosses bearing the names and dates of death.

I took 3 crosses. When I got back to my pew, I read the names. One, Maria Rudy Aguilar Santiz, died on July 13 of this year, which happens to be my mom’s birthday. The other, Hector Carbajal Martinez, died on July 2, a Saturday. While I was probably laying on a raft in the backyard pool, he was dying in the desert, dehydrated and over heated.

The third cross says “Desconocido” which means unidentified. About half of the crosses bear only this word. Still, as a woman named Maria reminded us during the service, somewhere there was probably a family waiting – one that had pinned its hopes of a better life on the shirtail of this traveler, now deceased.

Advertisements