EL PASO, Texas – Residents shed tears and prayed during a ceremony unveiling a memorial dedicated to the 22 lives taken during a mass shooting at a Texas Walmart.
Families impacted by the shooting, Walmart employees and other area residents attended the unveiling Saturday morning at the foot of the memorial in El Paso. In all, about 100 gathered around the structure to remember the tragedy at the store, which reopened Nov. 14.
The memorial, called the “Grand Candela,” was built to honor the victims. It shined through the night for the first time Friday and was welcomed by the public Saturday.
Gilbert Anchondo, the father of Andre Anchondo, who along with his wife, Jordan, was killed while protecting their infant, said the memorial was “beautiful,” adding that the architects and workers had done a good job.
However, Anchondo said he was disappointed that the victims’ names aren’t on the memorial.
“I would like to point out that maybe we put the names at a later time,” he said.
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A plaque on the memorial in part states:
“Dedicated to the people of El Paso, may this memorial stand as a solemn tribute to those who lost their lives on Aug. 3, 2019, be a beacon of hope for the survivors, and a lasting reminder to all of the enduring strength, resiliency and love that unites El Paso.”
The victims and their families will not be forgotten, El Paso Mayor Dee Margo said during the ceremony.
“As we enter Thanksgiving week, sometimes it’s hard to take, especially if you’ve lost a loved one,” Margo said.
But the mayor also noted “how remarkably resilient we are,” praising the Walmart workers, and said the residents of El Paso and Juárez are unique.
Catholic Bishop Mark J. Seitz, of the El Paso Diocese, said a prayer during the dedication “that this place might always be seen and remembered as a place in which those who lost their lives and those who were injured will be honored, that God will be with them.”
In English and in Spanish, the bishop asked that God “grant that the light of this candela might reach deep into the hearts and souls of El Pasoans and all who pass this sacred place.“
He said he hoped it shows how people can “respond to weapons of hatred with weapons of love.”
The 30-foot candle with 22 individual perforated aluminum arcs grouped together was lit and privately viewed by families impacted by the shooting Friday night. There is an arc for each of the slain victims. Another 25 people were injured.
The structure was under construction for weeks as renovation crews also began changing the look of the store.
Eddie Gamboa, who attended Saturday’s ceremony, said the store is part of the community and he came to honor the memory of the people who were lost and hurt in the shooting. He wanted to promote unity in the community, he added.
“Evil, racism never wins,” he said.
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