By: Jacqueline Garcel Martinez, CEO
Grief-stricken, I got up from my knees last Saturday morning and drove down to Uvalde, Texas. I didn’t know where else to go. The sorrow was so intense, I feared it would paralyze me. I had spent the last three days crying, obsessing over the news, trying to find the words to comfort others. But I had nothing.
I had received a request for volunteers from World Central Kitchen, who were set up near the town center preparing and serving meals to the community. When I arrived, they had an overflow of local volunteers ready to serve and comfort their friends and neighbors. I walked one block south to the town square. As I crossed the street, I could hear the laments and the prayers for comfort from local pastors. A woman sang the lyrics to the hymn “How Great is Our God.” Dozens of people gathered around each other praying and comforting one another. For what felt like hours, I just stood in front of the memorial grieving and mourning alongside this beautiful community that felt like home.
A little girl with long, black curly hair came up to me and offered me a hug. We embraced. As if we had known each other for years. But what had united us was the lives of 19 precious children—angels— who had been taken away violently from this world. Amerie Jo Garza. Rogelio Torres. Xavier Lopez. Jackie Cazares. Uziyah Garcia. Alexandria Aniyah Rubio. Their names, handwritten on the white crosses covered in love notes from their family and friends, etched in a memorial that never should have been.
One week later, I can still hear the voices of the people who spoke out in that sacred space. “Please don’t forget.” “Remember their names.” “Honor their lives.” Today, I write as one small way to honor the families and residents of this town known as the Cross Roads of America. A moniker earned because the highways that run from Canada to Mexico and from California to Florida cross right at the heart of this town. Today, a deeply symbolic name for a nation who once again stands at the same crossroad.
It has been more than a week since this tragedy struck the soul of this nation. Almost three years since El Paso. Four years since Parkland. Ten years since Sandy Hook. Twenty-three years since Columbine. More than 311,000 children and youth experiencing gun violence in our schools and communities in the past decade.
Enough. The soul of this nation—and our hearts— can’t bear another tragedy like this one.
Many of you have reached out to your LCF family asking for ways you can help. Below are just a few things you can do. It may seem small compared to the weight our hearts continue to feel. But at least it’s a step towards honoring the families that have pleaded for us to never forget.
Here’s how you can take action:
Join a March For Our Lives event on June 11th