“Death brings pain and tears. In this case, it motivates us to prepare ourselves to honor the memory of our heroes,” said this January 21, Brazilian Army’s Archbishop, Don Osvino José Borth, during a ceremony honoring the 18 Brazilians soldiers killed in the earthquake that devastated Haiti on January 12.
When the Military Band performed the National Anthem at the Brasília’s Air Base, relatives and friends of the victims of the earthquake were taken by emotion, including Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
Besides the president, vice-president José Alencar and the presidents of the National Congress, José Sarney, the Chamber of Deputies, Michel Temer, and the Supreme Court (STF), Gilmar Mendes, attended the ceremony. Most ministers were also present.
The 18 coffins were covered with Brazilian flags during a ceremony of posthumous honors rendered the fallen military. Much of the nearly 200 people who came to pay their last respects to the soldiers and officers killed in Haiti were dressed in black. Others wore shirts with pictures of the victims of the earthquake.
Celi França Zanin, wife of João Eliseu Zanin, promoted post-mortem to general, said she was proud of her husband, who had gone to Haiti for the first time. “He went there with great joy. We spoke when he arrived in Haiti. The last email he sent me was at 4:47 pm of January 12 (three minutes before the earthquake).”
As Zanin, Lt. Geraldo Luiz Mário recalled his nephew, Bruno Ribeiro Mário, 26, promoted post-mortem to Army captain, during the ceremony. “Bruno will always be remembered as a very happy guy and very loved by all. He fulfilled his mission and, of course, we’ll always be proud of him. “
Before the official ceremony, family members and friends had some private moment to say goodbye to the victims of the earthquake. The bodies will be transferred by five Brazilian Air Force (FAB) aircraft to the cities where they will be buried.
An 18th Brazilian soldier who died in the earthquake, major Márcio Guimarães Martins, 36, was only identified yesterday (January 20). His body will be transported to Brazil in the near future.
According to the army, Guimarães was the last missing soldier. The final total of Brazilians killed in Haiti is 21: the 18 soldiers serving in the UN mission MINUSTAH and 3 civilians.