As I arrived on Avenida de Mayo, I was definitely overwhelmed by the amount of marchers that filled the avenue until calle Piedras – where the march began towards Plaza de Mayo. La Dia de la Memoria is a national holiday to commemorate the people who disappeared during the military dictatorship in the late 1970's and early 1980's. May 24, 1976 was the day of the military coup and this year is a day for the whole country to reflect on the 34 years that have passed since then.
The moment I arrived near calle Piedras a drumming band clad in colorful costumes began belting out a complex yet catchy rhythm that reverberated up and down the blocked-off avenue. Passersby and other marchers were all captivated by the drumming group. Even though the majority of people present were actually marching, there were plenty that were just watching, like myself. Those watching filled the sidewalks, sat on top of bus stops, on top of cars and trucks parked on the street, on railings and ledges of nearby buildings, and I even spotted an older man perched up on a telephone pole.
The Madres de Plaza de Mayo marched close behind, holding up banners with images of los Desaparecidos, flags, signs, drums, whistles, and megaphones. Whatever excitement I had felt from the drumming group soon began to disintegrate, since the serious atmosphere breathed a tortured past, a revolutionary reaction, and an overwhelming serious present. The slogan NUNCA MáS was written on almost every sign and banner carried towards Plaza de Mayo, and when I noticed individuals holding signs with images of the desaparecidos, it made the widespread national message reach a much more personal level. As I made my way down to La Plaza de Mayo, I passed political groups, teacher’s organizations, and students all marching and chanting in memory of those they lost. I was not surprised to pass young socialists, anarchists, and hippies along the way, some who were passing out white cutout hearts to me and those around me to tie onto our clothing or bags.
When I reached La Plaza de Mayo, the mood of the crowd became more intense and more serious, as the announcers called upon the masses to make room in the center for the Madres as well as the Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo. Despite the serious and emotional displays of personal sadness and anger that I saw at the march, as a foreigner, the intensity and strength that spoke at a national level was what reverberated back at me most of all.