Unable to observe its usual Memorial Day celebrations, the U.S. Department of Defense chose to donate some of its resources to the American Legion bar’s effort to feed those hit the hardest by the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
The bar, located in the upscale La Condesa neighborhood of Mexico City, has dedicated its kitchen to cooking meals for local street vendors, couriers and homeless people since the beginning of the quarantine period.
“The donation made a big difference in how much we’re able to cook today,” said bar co-owner Luis Cerón while his staff buzzed busily through the kitchen. “Normally we’ve been making around 40 meals per day. Today we’ve got over 140.”
The donation has also helped them reach a milestone in the project. The bar announced on its Instagram account on Monday that the Memorial Day effort pushed the total number of meals donated to over 1,000.
Bar employees normally load up trays and walk to nearby Parque México to distribute the meals to the small crowd of destitute people who have made the park their temporary home.
But the extra meals meant they were able to extend their reach to the broad medians of Paseo de la Reforma Avenue, where Nestor sells snacks and cigarettes at a stoplight near the Angel of Independence monument.
“This is a great help, thank you,” Nestor said as he opened the box to see a juicy American-style hamburger paired with bright yellow potato salad.
Reforma’s lanes are usually crammed with hurried, stressed-out motorists who could use a snack or a smoke to make it through their long commutes, but cars only lined up two or three-deep in each lane while he spoke.
“My sales are basically nothing these days,” said Nestor before taking a bite of the burger.
As for the owners and employees of the American Legion bar, they are grateful for the opportunity to continue providing a much needed service in the community while the business is unable to function normally.
“We really appreciate the donation and what it allowed us to do today,” said Cerón, who will happily accept more in-kind or monetary donations via the American Legion bar website.
The U.S. Department of Defense usually celebrates Memorial Day by honoring the country’s fallen military personnel at the Mexico City National Cemetery, managed by the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC).
In April, the commission announced that it would hold a small, intimate ceremony there for Memorial Day in light of the coronavirus emergency. That ceremony took place on Monday, attended by Ambassador Christopher Landau and members of the Defense Attache Office and American Legion Post 2.
Mexico News Daily
CORRECTION: The earlier version of this story stated that the Memorial Day service was cancelled. In fact, a ceremony went ahead on Monday, scaled down to a smaller event due to the coronavirus emergency.