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20131026 Dia-de-los-Muertos 2841Faith Guerra stood in front of an altar Saturday evening, pointing to pictures of her great-grandparents, grandparents and her uncle.

The Mission Historical Museum’s Dia de los Muertos Festival was one way for the 11-year-old member of Girl Scout Troop No. 472 to get to know her family’s roots.

“They were really great people,” she said.

Guerra’s mom, Michelle, is the troop leader and service unit organizer for the region. It was her idea to recruit her girls to put together an altar for the event. It’s something Michelle’s just now learning about herself because she was not raised to honor Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead.

“I want her to start learning more about the culture,” Michelle Guerra said. “It seems like this generation now, even my generation, it seems that we have kind of gotten away from it.”

Dia de los Muertos is a Mexican tradition meant to celebrate, honor and remember the dead on Nov. 2. Residents celebrated through dance, food and sugar skulls. In Mexico, it’s a time to visit the graves of loved ones, bringing food and drink and pictures. The Mission museum Saturday was filled with similar altars, honoring the deceased ancestors of several Mission residents. About 400 people showed up to the festival.

For Michelle, a picture of her husband’s father brought back bittersweet memories. He was hospitalized at the same time Faith was born. He died a month and a half later. Standing out among the photos of older couples, many of whom lived long lives together was a photo of a young smiling boy. Michelle’s husband’s brother died at 15 with a ruptured spleen and diabetes.

Michelle said she wished more girls in her troop had participated and she hoped to get more members involved in the event next year.

“I think it’s because they don’t know what it’s about,” she said. “They don’t understand.”

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