From Uvalde: Grim Itinerary Of Funerals Replaces Celebrations; School May Be Razed
People visit a memorial for the victims of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School on May 28, 2022 in Uvalde, Texas, United States.
Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

UVALDE, Texas – The school year was just days away from ending when this small city near the Mexican border was plunged into the kind of grief and despair that will never completely heal.

Seniors at Uvalde High School had already secured their caps and gowns, and younger kids were stricken with the age-old affliction known as summeritis, staring out school windows and daydreaming about how they would fill their free time as the South Texas weather got hot. All the plans and dreams were shattered on May 24, when an 18-year-old loner some knew and many didn’t stormed Robb Elementary School and killed 19 children and two teachers.

“My heart is broken today,” said Uvalde Schools Superintendent Hal Harrell in announcing all school functions will be canceled for the rest of the year as the district focuses on the mental health of students. “Our hearts, thoughts, and prayers are with all our families as we go through this day and days to come.

“Schools will be closed,” he said. “The school year’s done.”

The canceled graduation has been replaced by what seems like an endless itinerary of heartbreaking funerals. And as for Robb Elementary, one early, cathartic step for the community will be to wipe it from the face of the earth.

“We’re going to look to raze that school and build a new one,” President Joe Biden told Texas State Sen. Roland Gutierrez.

Biden and first lady Jill Biden arrived in Uvalde Sunday where he met with police, firefighters, and first responders. He and the first lady attended Mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, where some of the families of the victims attend. After church, the president addressed protesters outside the church who urged leaders to “do something.”

“We will,” Biden replied.

In a grim display of Texas solidarity, funeral directors from neighboring communities are coming to the aid of the city’s overwhelmed two funeral homes, Hillcrest Memorial Funeral Home, located across the street from Robb Elementary, and and Rushing-Estes-Knowles Mortuary. The first of the funerals was set to take place on Tuesday.

“I’m bringing a funeral coach (hearse) and I’m going to be both a funeral coach driver and a director,” said Jimmy Lucas, president of the Texas Funeral Directors Association, told NBC News. “And whatever other duties assigned, as we say.”

Students, teachers, and community members have been showing up at the SSGT Willie de Leon Civic Center on Main Street for grief counseling.

Mary Fowler, who worked in the Uvalde Consolidated Independent School District for more than 30 years as a physical therapist, told the Texas Tribune that all 15,200 residents know Uvalde will never be the same.

“It’s just a really good, small community,” said Fowler. “I can’t believe this has happened here. I just can’t.”

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