ASUNCION – Paraguay exalted this Saturday its historic past and its Catholic essence with the reopening of the iconic Pantheon of Heroes with a ceremony in downtown Asuncion in the presence of President Horacio Cartes, and in which the remains of its past heroes were returned that had been removed while the mausoleum was being restored.
Government, military and ecclesiastical authorities attended the ceremony, as did some 300 veterans of the War of the Chaco (1932-1935) who were applauded by the public and by the soldiers stationed in front of the Pantheon of Heroes, now fully renovated after six years of restoration.
From the early hours of the morning, military bands and student groups lined Palma Street awaiting the procession of vehicles carrying the urns with the remains of Marshal Francisco Solano Lopez (1827-1870) and of the poet and musician Emiliano Flores (1894-1949), among others.
The remains had been taken from the Pantheon three months before to make way for the restoration work and were deposited in the Defense Ministry, from which they were returned this Saturday to their place of rest.
They were escorted by motorists and soldiers on horseback to the Pantheon of Heroes, where Marshal Lopez ordered in 1863 the construction of the Oratory of Our Lady of the Assumption, patron of Paraguay.
Then among cannon-fire salutes, the coffins and urns were placed containing the remains of national heroes including former Presidents Carlos Antonio Lopez (1790-1862) and Eligio Ayala (1879-1930).
Following that act, Culture Minister Fernando Griffith saluted the Paraguayan soldiers who fought in the War of the Triple Alliance and in the War of the Chaco, an allusion to the three veterans of that conflict between ages 101 and 103 who today attended the reopening of the Pantheon of Heroes.