It was five years ago today that Eddie Garzon died from injuries suffered when he was attacked as he walked home from a night out at the Queens gay bars with friends.
Yesterday, friends and family gathered at the Elmhurst Hospital Center's chapel for a memorial mass that drew thirty to forty people that came to show support to Eddie's parents, Leonor and Armando Garzon. Among them democratic District Leader Danny Dromm and New York State Senator John Sabini, both of whom also participated in the massive vigil some of us organized five years ago to demand justice for his murder (a first arrest came earlier this summer).
After the mass, as has been the tradition during the last few years, a few us us followed Eddie's parents to the place where he was felled to lay down candles and flowers. Once there, Mrs. Garzon led the congregation in prayer. Marlene Forero, her son, some of Eddie's closest friends and members of the Colombian Lesbian and Gay Association were also there. There had been tears in the chapel but by the time we gathered on that sidewalk there were also smiles and some gentle laughter bred by familiarity and friendship born out of a tragic loss. Mrs. Garzon, who has been in Colombia taking care of other family matters, wanted to make sure that members of the LGBT community in Queens and elsewhere who have kept the memory of her son alive knew just how grateful they are for the support. Mr. Garzon, in his quieter manner and demeanor, also expressed his gratitude. Both seemed to draw strength from the crowd.
Among the things that the Garzons had prepared for the sidewalk memorial was a board with clippings reflecting their son's life and events since his murder. Glued to the board was a photo of Eddie at 16 years of age when he first came to the United States and a note typed in Spanish by his mother. The note reads:
A FRUSTRATED DREAMThe note was written before this summer's arrest and, though the family knows that the trial ahead might be difficult, it is clear that it has brought a sense that some answers might come, finally, after five long years.
Every mother builds a great illusion with each and everyone of her children, from infancy to adulthood. She dreams of creating an integral being: Physically, spiritually and intellectually worthy of belonging to a family nucleus and to a society so that, with their exemplary behavior in society and in the neighborhoods in which they develop during the different stages of life, we all can make a reality of the goals that we have set for ourselves.
This was the dream that my husband and I idealized with each of our three children. In the case of our son, Edgar, who had 35 years and led an exemplary life here in the city of New York, [the dream] was frustrated on the 15th of August of 2001 when there was a heinous attempt on his life.
From a young age, he traveled to the United States with the same dreams and goals carried by each of the millions of immigrants worldwide. As an adolescent, he had already faced the great monster called New York, a monster that not even his young mind could imagine through the storybook tales and videos that he hungrily enjoyed so much as a child. How distant from imagining it and even further from experiencing it must Edgar have been, as also were we, when a few soulless murderers evered that fantasy dream that Edgar was making a reality, with courage, effort, self-drive, sacrifice, shames and glories, throughout twenty years in New York, where he made himself and lived as a citizen.
It was a nefarious day, a cruel day never expected, a day in which horrible images and thoughts crossed our confuses minds, because it was impossible to come to accept such a cruel reality.
Whom, how and why did those - to date - anonymous assassins take his life? Why is the investigation so slow? If his family and a whole community that was affected await with anxiety for resolution and that those guilty of such an irreparable loss be captured.
We the Garzon Jimenez family and the unanimously demand for a prompt and effective response.
More photos of yesterday's vigil here.