How El Paso Keeps the Dead Alive
Thanks to the movies “The Book of Life” and “Coco,” more people are aware of The Day of the Dead. To our El Paso culture and those of Mexican heritage, Día de los Muertos has extra special meaning.
Every year for 2 days our local cemeteries come alive like no other days. November 1, All Saints Day, commemorates children who have died (Dia de los Angelitos). November 2, All Souls Day, commemorating the adults who have died. For a uniquely spiritual experience, go visit a Cemetery during this time, or even in the days that follow. Just be aware the farther from Dia de los Muertos, the more affected by time and wind the memorials become.
One of the most decorated Cemeteries on the eastside is Restlawn Memorial Park, off Dyer Street, at 4848 Alps Drive. There you’ll find the final resting place El Pasoans from as far back as the 1930, as well as the recently deceased. It’s a gorgeous setting with a scenic view of the Franklin Mountains.
One of the most decorated Cemeteries on the westside is Memorial Pines Cemetery, off McNutt, at 3061 Memorial Pines, in Sunland Park. Most charming, yet sad, is the Garden of Angels, the section dedicated to the children.
Still active yet loaded with local historical figures is Evergreen Cemetery, which even holds an annual Dia de los Muertos celebration.
Some of the City’s earliest dearly departed call Evergreen their final resting place, as do famous former citizens such as Members of the Magoffin family, the Banner and Roberts families, members of the Trost family, notorious Texas Ranger and gunfighter Baz Outlaw, a number of Confederate soldiers graves with commemorative markers, even Mexican Revolutionary General and Dictator Victoriano Huerta. Even 3 of the “Big 5” Madams who greatly impacted and influenced early El Paso during a time when prostitution was legal here in our old west Bordertown, though only one, Tillie Howard (Weiler) has a headstone marking her bedroom for eternity.
Concordia is the most world renowned of El Paso Cemeteries. Though among its famous and infamous residents, regular El Paso folk from the 1800s on.
It too will be well decorated as of the descendants of family residents will ensure their ancestors remain in the Land of the Remembered.
El Paso also has some Cemeteries which should not relegated to the Land of the Forgotten. One such is the Smelter Cemetery, which lies off Executive on the west side at 28 San Marcos Drive, just north of where ASARCO once existed.
This much neglected and humble land is the final resting place for many Mexican immigrants and Mexicans who once worked for the American Smelting and Refining Company.
Unfortunately, many of the graves are unmarked or so weathered through time, its residents can only be known through plot documents. Even then, some there will forever be lost to time.
There are even more Cemeteries throughout the area, but be aware if you visit one still active you could run into people grieving for their recently departed, thus a more somber tone might be appropriate for that moment.
So grab tributes of flowers, candles, or a few of their favorite things, and keep your family residing in the Land of the Remembered. As explained by Mary Beth (La Muerte) in “The Book of Life,” it’s “A festive and magical place for those who live on in the memories of their loved ones.”