Senate honors Uvalde victims
On the one-year anniversary of the tragic shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, the Senate took time to remember each of the 21 victims who died last May. Nineteen students and two teachers were killed that day, and eighteen more were injured. The event shocked the state and the nation and put the small Texas town just west of San Antonio in the national spotlight as that community tried to come to grips with the unimaginable tragedy inflicted there. Wednesday, the Senate passed a resolution for each of those victims, with a different member reflecting on the event and offering a glimpse of the life story of those who lost their life. San Antonio Senator Roland Gutierrez, who represents Uvalde, has been a tireless advocate for the victims' families, many of whom he has become close with as he spent the days, weeks, and months following the tragedy in that small town. "It's hard to find the reasons why," he told members. "A year of mental turmoil only leads to more questions, trying to decipher what's real and what's not real. The craziness of a moment that never seems to stop; you're chasing rabbit holes and fighting windmills - it just becomes an impossible task. And so we pray."
Members, most fighting back tears, rose one after the other to tell a little bit about each child, their hobbies, their favorite colors, their hopes for when they grew up, where they wanted to travel, who they wanted to be, their heroes, their dreams. "Ellie had a joyful spirit," said Austin Senator Sarah Eckhardt, who spoke on behalf of Eliahna Garcia, aged 9. "She loved doing Tik Tok dances in preparation for her quinceañera one day, where she planned to wear a showstopper dress in her favorite color purple. Instead of a purple quince, a purple mural now sits at 117 North West Street in Uvalde in remembrance of Ellie." Each of the twenty-one victims is memorialized with a mural in the town, painted by artists from all over Texas. "We are doing important things here today," said Houston Senator Joan Hufffman, on a day where any bill not passed by a midnight deadline will not have a chance to become law. "Nothing we do is as important, in my opinion, as stopping today to remember these murdered children."
Memorial resolutions are not uncommon in the Legislature, as members regularly remember constituents, but Wednesday's multiple resolutions, each with a senator delivering a small eulogy, was both unprecedented and moving. Lt. Governor Dan Patrick thanked Gutierrez for including all members in remembering the twenty-one victims of the tragedy. "Senator Gutierrez, this has been well done," he said. "Your generosity to reach out to other members to share those stories, this will be a day not one of these senators will forget in their lives." As lieutenant governor, said Patrick, he has attended many funerals, citing past tragedies like the El Paso Wal-Mart shooting, Santa Fe High School shooting, and the shooting in Odessa in 2019. "I remember a man at Sutherland Springs - I think he lost five or six family members in the church shooting - he said 'We can't question God in these times, we have to trust God'," said Patrick. "And so it's our faith, and you've helped all of us reflect on all of these times."
Nineteen of the victims were children. Their names are: Tess Marie Mata, 10; Uziyah Sergio Garcia, 10; Nevaeh Alyssa Bravo, 10; Jose Manuel Flores Jr, 10; Eliahna Amyah Garcia, 9; Amerie Jo Garza, 10; Xavier James Lopez, 10; Jayce Carmelo Luevanos, 10; Jacklyn Jaylen Cazares, 9; Alithia Haven Ramirez, 10; Anabell Guadalupe Rodríguez, 10; Maite Yuleana Rodríguez, 10; Layla Marie Salazar, 11; Makenna Lee Elrod Seiler, 10; Jaliah Nicole Silguero, 10; Eliahna Torres, 10; Rogelio Fernandez Torres, 10; Maranda Gail Mathis, 11; and Alexandria Aniyah Rubio, 10.
Two teachers also died, Eva Mireles, 44, and Irma Linda Garcia, 48. Garcia was remembered along with her husband, Jose Antonio Garcia, who died at a memorial service two days after the shooting. Family members say that his heart attack was caused by grief over the loss of his wife and so many others.
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