HOLTVILLE   




HOLTVILLE


The small town of Holtville is located in the middle of Imperial Valley, California: one of the most productive agricultural areas in the country. Having read about a burial site for unidentified migrants who had died in the desert nearby, I set out to look for it.

After driving for over an hour, several cantaloupe harvesters pointed me in the direction of a small graveyard where a few shade trees and plastic flowers marked "Holtville Cemetery."

It was fairly ordinary for a rural graveyard, except that behind the back hedge were dozens of wooden crosses planted in a barren field among piles of unwanted soil and other discards from the graves. Most of the crosses bore no names at all.

I knew that these people buried here had stories to tell. I stood among them and listened to their silence.

The signs around them read "do not enter," that the land could cave in if one walked through. I ignored those signs.

These were the unknown soldiers of an American war at the border, a war waged mostly on the poor. Some of them had likely harvested melons or lettuce shipped to a grocery store near my home. I had to pay my respects.