LA gallery celebrates Day of the Dead by honoring Latino veterans

LatinaLista — If October 31 is Halloween, then November 2 must be All Souls Day or as how most Latinos of Mexican and Central American descent know it — the Day of the Dead.

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While to the casual observer, Day of the Dead may seem like a highly creepy way to remember loved ones who have passed on — picnicking on their gravesites, creating homemade altars in their honor, throwing parties replete with candy skulls, face-painting our children as skeletons, etc. — it’s a tradition that is fast being enjoyed by a mix of ethnicities, especially if they live in the Southwest.

So, it’s only fitting that among Latinos who celebrate it, they are now going beyond just remembering family members.

In the Boyle Heights area of Los Angeles, the gallery, Brooklyn and Boyle, has installed a special exhibit “Muertos de la Guerra/War Dead.”

The special exhibit, which opened October 17 and runs through Nov. 10, explores the deaths of Latino veterans killed from the days of the Vietnam War right up to Iraq and Afghanistan.

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“This is a way of honoring the dead but with a purpose and a message,” said Josefina Lopez, founder of sister organization, Casa 0101, and a writer whose autobiographical play, “Real Woman Have Curves,” was made into an acclaimed HBO movie. “We want to affirm our contribution to this country.”

As part of this special exhibit, Casa 0101 is screening the documentary “As Long As I Remember: American Veteranos.” It’s a film that follows three Chicano artists dealing with their experiences in Vietnam and those of their peers.

When it comes to honoring the ultimate sacrifice by Latino veterans, there’s no more fitting day than Day of the Dead — if we only had one to pick, but their sacrifices, as all soldiers, should never be forgotten.

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