• StevenF

Snuffed Out Lives

I saw a story about a business that has donated custom caskets to the families of the 19 children killed by the gunman in the recent Uvalde shooting in Texas. Here is one of the articles about it.

But when I actually saw the photos of some of the caskets, I just started crying.

It's just so incredibly sad to me. I've read about each of these 19 children and the two teachers who were slaughtered along with them, and it's all so senseless.

The following is taken from this article from The Texas Tribune:

Makenna Lee Elrod, 10

Her "smile...could light up a room." "She had the biggest heart and loved her family and friends so much."

Layla Salazar, 11

Layla loved to swim and dance. And she could really run. The 11-year-old won six races in a recent field day and took home blue first-place ribbons.

Maranda Mathis, 11

"She had manners." "She was a bright girl."

She was "sweet, smart and a shy tomboy who enjoyed being in nature and the outdoors."

"Those who knew Maranda, knew her great imagination and often expressed her love for unicorns, especially if they were her favorite color purple."

Nevaeh Bravo, 10

Nevaeh, whose name is "heaven" spelled backwards, now flies with the angels. "Her siblings have to wake up every day knowing that she’s not there with them."

Jose Manuel Flores Jr., 10

Jose was a good brother. He would try to help take care of his infant brother. His sister Endrea Flores, who is 9 months younger than Jose, said her brother would always play with her and support her.

Jose’s mother said he was her 'little shadow' and would help her around the house.

Jose wanted to be a police officer when he grew up to protect others.

"He was a helper."

Xavier Lopez, 10

[Xavier] could...put on a show for the cameras. He would dance to Colombian songs and do face masks with his mom on her TikTok account.

"He was funny, never serious, and his smile...that smile I will never forget. It would always cheer anyone up.'

[He] excelled in school, where his favorite subject was art. He loved to shoot hoops and play baseball.

Tess Marie Mata, 10

Tess had a jar full of cash in her purple bedroom. She was saving up money for a family vacation to Disney World. Relatives said she loved the Nickelodeon show “Victorious” and the Houston Astros. [She was] an introverted girl who loved her cat. She was athletic; she could do the splits and practiced softball. [She] had a contagious laugh.

Rojelio Torres, 10

A large stuffed Yoda, along with a Batman-themed football and several stuffed animals, greeted loved ones at Rojelio’s memorial...

He was remembered as a smart and loving son.

"I lost a piece of my heart," [said] his mother, Evadulia Orta.

Eliahna "Ellie" Amyah Garcia, 9

Eliahna knew she wanted to be a cheerleader. She loved basketball and making TikToks.

"Eliahna was such a sweet girl with a lovely and beautiful soul. She would light up everyone’s world with big smiles & big hugs."

She would have turned 10 next week. Her family was planning a pool party celebration.

“Told her we’re going to have a party and her face just lit up,” her dad said. “That was the last time I saw her.”

Eliahna A. Torres, 10

Eliahna wore the number four on the softball field. She loved the sport and was in contention for a spot on the city all-star team. She was looking forward to her last Little League game of the season after school on Tuesday. "She was an amazing young girl with so much potential."

Annabell Guadalupe Rodriguez, 10

Annabell was a quiet child and an earnest student, having earned her place on the school’s honor roll.

She was cousins, classmates and close friends with Jackie Cazares, another victim.

Jackie Cazares, 9

Two weeks ago, Jackie received her First Communion.

Her family members describe her as a girl full of life who brightened the day of people around her.

"Jackie was the one that would go out of her way to help anyone."

Uziyah Garcia, 10

Uziyah last visited his grandfather Manny Renfro in San Angelo during spring break. They threw a football together, and Renfro was teaching him pass patterns.

"Such a fast little boy and he could catch a ball so good," Renfro [said.] "The sweetest little boy that I’ve ever known."

Jayce Carmelo Luevanos, 10

Jayce would always bring the neighborhood kids to his family’s home, just a block away from the elementary school where he was killed.

The 10-year-old would make his grandparents a pot of coffee every morning. He wrote notes like, “I love you, Grandpa.”

Maite Yuleana Rodriguez, 10

Green was Maite’s favorite color. She was always sporting her pair of lime green Converse tennis shoes. She had hand-drawn a heart on the right shoe. [Her mother] described her daughter as sweet, caring and goal-driven. Maite had told her mother she wanted to study at Texas A&M University and become a marine biologist. She taught herself how to sew from YouTube videos. She had just picked up a camera and was practicing photography. And when it came to P.E. class, she wanted to win.

Jailah Nicole Silguero, 10

It was uncharacteristic of her, but Jailah told her parents she did not want to go to school the morning of the shooting. [She] was always dancing. She liked watching TikToks. She often spent her time outdoors.

Amerie was known to be protective of her brother, 3-year-old Zayne. She would kiss him every morning before she went to school.

Her family will remember her as a hero. She was trying to dial 911 on her cellphone when the gunman shot her.

A vanilla bean frappe and Chick-fil-A lover, Amerie was known by her family as a diva who detested dresses. She dreamed of becoming an art teacher. Amerie celebrated her 10th birthday earlier this month.

Alexandria "Lexi" Aniyah Rubio, 10

There was a lot Alexandria was looking forward to: practicing softball and basketball with her father, playing volleyball in the seventh grade and learning about feminism.

The fourth-grader got straight A’s in elementary school and had just been awarded a good citizenship award.

"Our baby wanted to be a lawyer; she wanted to make a difference," her mother [said]. "Please make sure she makes one now."

Alithia Ramirez, 10

Alithia loved to draw. She had submitted a drawing to Doodle for Google. She shared her love for art and soccer with her best friend, Nico Escalante, who was struck and killed by a car in Grand Prairie last year. Alithia tried to use artwork to provide solace to Nico’s parents. “I never imagined that this little girl would be mature enough to say, ‘Hey, you know what, I want to keep in touch. I want to check in. I want to make [you a] painting and bring a smile to your face,’” Fernanda Sedeno, Nico’s mom [said]. “That’s what I loved about her, and that shows how pure and kind her heart was.” She sent a drawing of him sketching in heaven while she was drawing on earth.

Irma Garcia, 48

Garcia was about to complete her 23rd year of teaching at Robb Elementary the week she was killed. She started teaching there about a year after she married Joe Garcia, her high school sweetheart. They loved to barbecue together. On Thursday, just two days after the shooting, Joe Garcia died from a heart attack. They are survived by their four children, Cristian, 23; Jose, 19; Lyliana, 15; and Alysandara, 13.

Eva Mireles, 44

Mireles worked as an educator for 17 years. Many in the small-knit community of Uvalde have been her students.

[Her daughter,] Adalynn recalled her mother’s hands and the calluses she had developed because of her routine CrossFit workouts. Adalynn often called on her mother to check on the chicken she cooked. They would sing karaoke and reenact TikToks together.

When I read these reflections and see these faces, I think so much of the lost potential, the disintegrated futures, the mourning families left behind, the unbearable grief and empty holes that are left.

I look at these faces and think, "These kids and teachers were enjoying a great day of school, only a couple of days before the summer break, before these kids would have celebrations and summer outings. They had had an honor roll ceremony that day celebrating these kids' achievements. These kids and their teachers had futures, dreams, and families.

And now it's all gone. All wasted away because some selfish, misguided, violent 18 year-old was so easily able to get his hands on an assault rifle and slaughter these innocent and frightened children.


It makes no sense.

It is so tragic.

And it is preventable if we cared more about human lives than we seem to care about guns.

We are the only country where these types of mass shootings happen over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again.

And we do not care enough to do anything of lasting value and import about it. And I fear we never will.

I see these politicians making excuses and blaming these types of acts of violence on everything but the most obvious culprit: guns.

It is far too easy to get a gun in this country.

What reason does anyone, let alone an 18 year-old boy, need an assault rifle other than to use it to commit deadly force on whoever the shooter wishes?

Look at the ages of these kids. 9, 10, and 11. Even the teachers, at 44 and 48, are so young. Their bodies were ripped apart by the shooter and his gun. Their souls were torn from their bodies. Their families will never recover from this.

I think of my young nephews going to school with their mom, who volunteers at the school. This could just as easily have been them. I know if such a thing happened to them, I would never recover from that kind of senseless loss.

This is heartbreaking. It is so unnecessary.

Other countries have successfully enacted laws that have greatly minimized and even prevented these kinds of shootings. Those countries have mentally-ill people. Those countries have violent video games. Those countries have people who have forsaken religion. Those countries have people with troubled home lives. I hear these thrown around by pro-gun advocates as possible reasons we have these kinds of mass shootings here. So why then are there not the same kinds of shootings in those countries? Because they have better gun-control laws and don't have the same crazy gun culture we have here.

We love our guns too much here. We will never let go of them. They will have to be pried from our "cold, dead hands." The gun lobby is too powerful here. The 2nd Amendment defenders are too entrenched in what they think the 2nd Amendment is all about: the freedom to have any kind of unregulated gun they want to defend themselves against some outward enemy when the fact is, what will truly destroy us in this country will no doubt be from within.

But fine, let's just keep watching kids and innocent people getting slaughtered. Let's keep sending "thoughts and prayers" without supporting any sort of action that would actually do any good. Let's keep defending the right to bear arms without really looking at the biggest cause of these shootings. Let's keep coming up with supposed solutions when the real solution is right in front of us. Let's keep talking about how much we value life when it's clear we value guns more. Let's keep talking about how the only way to deal with a bad guy with a gun is with a good a guy with a gun but keep making it so easy for the bad guy to get the gun in the first place.

This is unconscionable. It is shameful. And I'm sorry, it is preventable.

We keep talking about how we're the greatest country in the world.

If continually standing by and watching one's citizens and children get murdered without doing something concrete and actionable about it is part of the "greatest country in the world"'s culture, I want no part of it.

We have become numb to this. We think this is just the way it has to be. It's insane.

Instead of being shocked by these shootings, it's just "business as usual" in this country.

What the hell is wrong with us?

This is what we have wrought and what will continue to be our legacy if we keep doing what we always do:

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