Praise for the People's Heroes
The Second Republic was a bright and shining moment in the fight for the rights of the people to govern themselves. This tribute is long overdue. It chokes me up a bit just to read of it; I cannot imagine what it must have been like to be there:
Josefa Vazquez Gallego kept her life story private for 65 years: separated from her husband by war, left to raise her daughter in poverty, jailed for giving food to dissidents under Spanish dictator Francisco Franco.
Now, 87-year-old Vazquez Gallego has been in the spotlight for the first time in her life, hailed as a hero by thousands of people.
She was one of about 550 elderly people from the losing side of the 1936-1939 Spanish Civil War who gathered on a recent summer evening outside Madrid to receive a passionate tribute from a crowd of 15,000 at an event called "Recovering Memory."
"After so many years of silence, I never expected to see a night like tonight before I died," said Vazquez Gallego through her tears.
They were all old Republicans -- fighters and supporters of Spain's short-lived Second Republic, proclaimed in 1931 and brought to an end by the Civil War and the victory of Franco, the general who ruled Spain until his death in 1975.
Gathered near the stage, they sang the old anthem of the Republic, waved its flag and roared "Viva la Republica!" in between songs and readings. Thousands of younger people cried.