Jean Donovan, Staples Class of '71,
was only 27 years old when she was brutally raped, tortured and murdered alongside her three women religious companions in El Salvador on December 2, 1980
. Their tragic deaths, at the hands of the Salvadorian Military, were mourned all over the world as well as right here in Westport where she grew up.
Over the ensuing years, Jean and her three companions have managed to achieve international renown and respect
– including their possible - but still pending - acknowledgement and designation as Saints by the Catholic Church. (The Catholic Church already considers all four to be religious martyrs.) Several books, plays and movies have been written and filmed to convey their powerful story. They have achieved all this - not merely for how they died but, most importantly, for how they lived. Steadfastly accompanying and serving the poorest of the poor in a violent, war torn country.Yet, inexplicably, 36 years later, Jean seems largely forgotten by her own hometown. Staples High School has no plaque nor any other reference to her.
The only place in our town where anything currently exists to remember her is in the back vestibule of the Assumption Church. Where a photo of her is part of a larger framed poster of modern Catholic Martyrs. (And, even there, in her childhood parish church, the poster which had been printed by the Dioceses wrongly notes that her hometown was Stamford not Westport.)A group of Westporters
: former classmates, friends, admirers, an actress that portrayed her in a major film - along with others who simply remember where they were when they heard the sad news of their deaths, want to reinvigorate our towns collective memory by erecting a plaque that remembers and commemorates Jean and her amazing story. If you agree with us that it is long overdue for her hometown and school to formally rectify this oversight and to remember this remarkable person will you join us and make a donation?Note: The $3,600 will go to cover the cost of the design and casting of a solid bronze 18" x 24" plaque that includes a bas relief (three dimensional sculpted) portrait of Jean.
To help you in your deliberations, and to bring everyone up to date on her life and accomplishments, we would like to share some links about her.This first link is a excellent 13 minute NY Times video recap of what happened to Jean and her three companions in El Salvador
along with the story of the initial coverup attempted by the Salvadorian Govt and Military along with some - though thankfully not all - in the US Administration.The second is one of the blogs that Dan Woog
has ran about Jean on 06880:The third is the interesting and previously unreported story of how a junior US State Department official cracked the case
about the specific soldiers who raped, tortured and killed Jean and the three nuns in El Salvador. Thank you for your kind consideration.
John F. Suggs