“My dad was in Malvinas” is a Facebook group created by Ana Miño and followed by a lot of young people like her, whose parents served in the war fought between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the Malvinas, or Falkland Islands. The group’s mission: To validate their parents’s memories of the war, and to show pride in being the children of veterans.
“My dad is a Malvinas hero; I feel proud of him,” says Miño, 28. “Growing up, I wanted to know more. He opened his soul and shared all his experiences with my sister and me. I found out he was decorated many times.”
The Malvinas, or Falklands, War began on April 2, 1982. The dictatorial government at that time, as a last resort to stay in power, decided to regain sovereignty over the Islands, and declared in war. In 72 days, 649 Argentines and more than 300 Brits died.
Gustavo Miño, Ana’s father, was very young when he was called to go to war. He was about to being married and confident he’d be coming back.
“We were proud of being there,” says the older Miño, now 55. “I thought England will never come to the Islands. We gave everything.”
Fighting a stronger, better armed military, Argentina’s soldiers showed their courage and fought with dignity despite hunger, cold and inadequate equipment.
Santiago Martella’s father, Luis Carlos Martella, was a 24-year-old lieutenant when he went to the Islands. He died two days before Argentina’s surrender, while trying to save his soldiers during an arial attack by British planes.
“People are surprised when I say that my dad died in Malvinas,” says Martella, 29. “They have no consciousness of this recent war. They feel that war is something old, something that happened long ago.”
Malvinas was not a taboo in Martella’s family. His grandparents were in the military and they felt that war was a part of their jobs.
“I have no memory of my father. I was one year old when he went to Malvinas,” says Martella. “My sister was born six days after he died. In 1991, as part of an agreement between Britan and Argentina, we could visit our father’s tomb in the Islands for the first time. I went there two more times after that and always felt the same sadness and pride.”
Argentine society received its soldiers with happiness when they came back from war in June. But in Argentineans’ minds, the dictatorship, the state terrorism that made thousands of people disappear and and the war were all mixed together. Veterans remained isolated in society. Nobody wanted to talk about the war. ‘Military’ was a bad word in the 80’s.
More than a half of soldiers who had gone to war were 19-year-old soldiers doing their mandatory military service. After the war, a high percentage of them committed suicide.
“They were fulfilling a civil obligation but they were not prepared for war," says Miño. “When they came back, they were discharged from the Army and left with their horrible memories.”
“My father, Washington Pallero, was 22 years old when he went to Malvinas,” says Beatriz Pallero, 27. “He never wanted to talk about the war, although I tried to. He kept his memories to himself until he was died, three months ago. He wrote a diary but it remains closed. He was a one of the hundreds of heroes and silently, every Malvinas’ Commemoration on April 2, he took part without saying a word.”
In the 90s, veterans of the war received a pension for the first time, and April 2 became a holiday in their memory. Now, in 2011, their children are going for a little bit more.
“Malvinas’ heroes deserve a better and more honorable place in society and history,” says Ana Miño. “We can’t forget them.”
Teresa Sofía Buscaglia is a freelance writer based in Buenos Aires, Argentina.