The Name on my Cross

April 23, 1990
Fort Benning, Georgia

Juan Ramon Moreno S.J.,
I carried your cross
in the circular procession today,
shaking my rattle.

I confess
I leaned on your cross a little
during the speeches,
rattling my applause.
Then looked over my shoulder.

The soldiers stood
in little motionless groups
as if posing for photographs with their
personnel carriers,
in battle camouflage and riot gear.
They watched.
I couldn't tell if they listened.

I hoisted your cross
and turned your name around to face them.
Not to accuse anyone:
I wanted to feel the weight of the wood.
And I wanted them to notice
you had a name.
Not just another dark-skinned man on a cross.

 

Father Moreno was one of six Jesuit priests killed by members of the Salvadoran military on November 16, 1989. Five of the soldiers on trial for his execution received training at the School of the Americas at Fort Benning. We'll know real change is coming to El Salvador when they shut it down.