Reflections from participants in a Day of Remembrance in Postville

A woman and little girl cuddle during the Day of Remembrance May 12 in Postville, Iowa, marking the first anniversary of a massive immigration raid at Agriprocessors meat-processing plant.

(Editor’s note: The following reflections are from people who traveled by bus, courtesy of the Diocese of Davenport and League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), to participate in the Day of Remembrance on May 12 in Postville, Iowa.)

“I’ve been up to Postville three times now and you still can see the anguish and fear in the eyes of the people.  It is hard to see their sorrow.” — Gil  G.G. Sierra, Iowa state director for  LULAC

“The aspect that moved me most was the witness of the people — the capacity to keep on doing what each must do despite living in a situation in which you never know what will happen next, in the words of a Guatemalan high school student. The prayer was a powerful gathering of people from all walks of life, many faiths, many states, many points of interest, but all with a desire to help bring change and to manifest solidarity in the face of injustice. I’m glad I could be there.” — Sister Johanna Rickl, CHM

“What a wonderful, nonviolent demonstration of hope and love! It was especially powerful in contrast with the strong show of police cars at every intersection during the march. The service in the church was long, but moving — great planning.” — Sister Caridad Inda, CHM


“I have been following Postville since 2000. What was the most stunning to me today was the reading of the names. The inhumane raid ripped apart their lives. The prayer service and walk was a true solidarity moment. It was quiet and peaceful. We will remember our Postville people.” — Joan Dyne, teacher at St. Paul the Apostle School, Davenport

“I liked walking with the kids from Mexico and Guatemala.” — Cassidy Dyne, third grade, daughter of Joan Dyne

“There is not a reason the families, the town of Postville and the world should not have been shocked at how Iowa treated the people, and it still has not been resolved. Iowans should be ashamed of themselves; where was the governor of Iowa and the congressmen? I am glad I came and gave my support for the people who worked there. — Sally Ybarra, Blue Grass

“I needed to be on this journey, I needed to see, feel, and share the anguish and pain of the people of Postville … I hope I can continue to share the pain I saw today and change it into a challenge to myself and others to fight for all God’s children. — Sandy Liagre, Davenport

“It was awesome and very moving. Totally worth the six hours on the bus.” — Brianna Stebbins, student, North High School, Davenport  

“It was an eye-opening experience. You never really think about situations like these until you hear the stories of those affected.” — Austin Bird, North High student

“I was so moved by today’s commemoration and more determined than ever to work for reform: si se puede!! — Leslie Kilgannon,  executive director of Quad Cities Interfaith

“To me the most impressive part of the day was the reading of the names of those arrested: 389 names … Each is a real person with hopes and dreams and aspirations equal to mine.  They are not just ‘illegal immigrants;’ they are real people.  We need to find ways to keep driving that fact home.”  — Sister Ruth Westmorland, OSF, Davenport

“Beautiful people of all ages were united to be committed to immigration reform. My faith tradition is Unitarian and it was easy to realize two of our principles:  respect for the worth and dignity of all people and belief in the interdependence of all existence of which we are a part.” — Sue Witte, Bettendorf

“My heart aches for the people who have suffered so much and continue to long for their families.  I am thankful to experience the faith and support of the community.” — Nancy Roberson, Muscatine

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