On June 20, 1986, amid the 12-year civil war in El Salvador (1980–1992), a group of displaced Salvadorans from the northern department of Chalatenango declared San José las Flores their home. As the war between the Salvadoran army and the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) intensified in rural areas, many people left to find refuge in other parts of the country. Since the FMLN had an active presence in Chalatenango, the Salvadoran military bombed this region frequently, which transformed las Flores into a ghost town by 1984. Those Salvadorans who decided to hide instead of leaving the country or even the region faced treacherous conditions as they trekked through the mountainous terrain of Chalatenango fleeing from military operations. By 1986, many of these Salvadorans emerged from their precarious living to demand their right to live in San José las Flores. More than three decades after the repopulation of the town, and more than two decades since the signing of the peace accords, residents of las Flores continue to celebrate their history, without fail, every year, bearing witness to a reenactment of the events that led to their town’s repopulation. This article examines these anniversaries, especially its 30th anniversary in 2016, to understand how the town remembers, interprets, and transforms their local history. What prompts residents of las Flores to relive these events? How is social memory and trauma transmitted to the diverse audience in attendance? What does reenactment have to do with collective memory? This article argues that the performance of the repopulation of las Flores, enacted by former guerrilla soldiers, survivors of the war, and their children and grandchildren, demonstrates how the history, memories, and values of this town are transmitted from generation to generation. In Diana Taylor’s words, they remember their collective suffering, challenges, and triumphs through both archival and embodied memory.

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