The Argentine Ministry of Defense and the Navy paid tribute to the courage and glory of the 323 sailors who died during the sinking of the cruiser ARA Belgrano, on 2 May 1982, at the beginning of hostilities with UK during the South Atlantic conflict.
Ceremonies on the 38th anniversary were brief and austere, and included the release of a video to honor the full crew of the Belgrano, 1.093 members and their families. The cruiser was sunk by nuclear sub HMS Conqueror on the fringes of the exclusion zone established by the UK Task Force sent to recover the Falklands, which had been invaded by Argentine forces on April 2nd.
The ceremony at Navy's HQ took place next to the cenotaph to the memory of the cruiser's crew members and was headed by Defense minister Agustín Rossi, with Navy Chief of Staff R/A Julio Horacio Guardia, Armed Forces Joint Chief of Staff General Juan Martin Paleo and Chiefs of staff from the Army, General Agustin Cejas and from the Air Force, Brigadier Xavier Julian Isaac.
The Commander of the Fleet R/A Jorge Juan Siekan recalled that 38 years ago in the freezing waters of the south Atlantic, ARA Belgrano went down, and at that moment 323 Argentine seamen became immortal, having done the maximum sacrifice of a human being, giving their lives in support of the interests of the Nation.
The naval officer then referred to the families of the last 1,093 Belgrano crew, they have the immense honor of loving a hero, the courage of having allowed them to comply with duty, the strength and integrity to support them knowing the danger they faced, and that is why our veterans and their families will always deserve and enjoy the respect of the Argentine people
Defense minister Rossi from his office said that the Malvinas War has two words that identify the conflict: sovereignty and courage. The most glorious pages of that conflict were written by those who fought because they did it with generosity, altruism, with patriotism in clearly adverse circumstances, but convinced and driven by the feeling they were complying with the motherland.
We must ensure that the vision of the future is always full of that Malvinas spirit of courage and patriotism in the next generations, above all other things. That spirit of commitment must be strengthened and present at all times, particularly among the next promotions of the Armed Forces.
Rossi also mentioned that the Argentine armed forces are currently in their major deployment since the Malvinas war, because as then we are also defending sovereignty, defending the health of our people, which also has to do with the sovereignty of our country.
The ministerial message was accompanied by a brief video recalling the honor and glory of the victims of the sinking, their next of kin and survivors
The video released early on the anniversary date says in off, with images of the Belgrano and members of the crew, that May 2nd marked our destinies and our souls. We were never the same again, our torn hearts tried to comfort those next to us and even today we try to cheer ourselves with a memory, a word, a smile to overcome what changed our destinies.
But that pain set roots and we all learnt to live with the Belgrano, honoring our heroes, comforting loved ones, teaching our children the history they did not know and above all, never forgetting the feat that the old colossus had undertaken
As we recall those hours and as they endure in our minds and souls, Belgrano will continue to be custodian of the freezing waters of the South Atlantic and will eternally be the grave of our heroes, ends the message.
Belgrano had left its base at Puerto Belgrano on 16 April and headed south to meet the UK Task Force which had reached the Falklands. It was sunk by HMS Conqueror, and of the 1.093 crew members, 770 survived. Two Argentine escort vessels actually fled the scene fearing they might also be torpedoed. It was the major single loss of the South Atlantic conflict, and the first time a nuclear submarine sunk a vessel in combat.
Finally retired Captain Pedro Galazzi, who heads the General Belgrano Cruise Association revealed that 24 monuments with the names of the 323 heroes have been inaugurated in different parts of Argentina. They will speak for us, even when we are no longer around, pointed out the surviving second in command of the sunken cruiser.