The Día de los Muertos, the children of Uvalde, we remember the teachers

The tweet was just one sentence, but it was heartbreaking.

“We should choose her Halloween costume together, but instead I’m making her an ofrenda,” tweeted Ana Rodriguez, mother of 10-year-old Maite Rodriguez, who had dreams of becoming a marine biologist and cared about the environment.

Maite was one of 19 children who were killed, along with two teachers, in the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde, Texas in May.

They are honored by communities across Texas and nationwide as part of Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, traditions, which honor deceased loved ones with ofrendas or altars.

According to tradition, at midnight on October 31, the souls of deceased children descend from heaven and reunite with their families on November 1, and the souls of deceased adults come to visit them on November 2.

It is celebrated with colorful ofrendas that families and communities create to honor their deceased loved ones.

Several cities across the country hold events and parades and create colorful altars. This year, the faces of the 19 children who died in Uvalde were atop altars across the country.

At San Antonio’s “Muertosfest” on Saturday, Lainer High School’s art club tribute went viral on TikTok. The altar created by the students consisted of 20 custom desks – one honoring each of the 19 deceased students and one for the two educators.

The tribute simulated a classroom where all student desks faced the teachers desk. Members of the community wiped away tears as they stopped to take photos and view the altar, Texas Public Radio reported.

Families of the victims were also allowed to take the desks home if they wished, according to the radio service.

In Chicago, the 36th annual Day of the Dead exhibition at the National Museum of Mexican Art, or NMMA, honors Uvalde’s victims by including an installation ofrenda created by students from Bernhard Moos Elementary School.

Monarch butterflies represent the souls of deceased students, and two skeletal angels above symbolize teachers who died trying to protect them. Fake yearbooks contain brief descriptions of things each child liked.

In the corner, next to two desks and a blackboard, is a pecan tree, which represents Robb Elementary School. On the board is a poem by Nahuatl poet Mardonio Carballo emphasizing the relationship between every living thing and those who nurtured and cared for it.

“Because of the amount of gun violence, we could do an entire exhibit commemorating just the victims,” ​​said Cesáreo Moreno, NMMA’s director of visual arts and chief curator. “It’s become a more difficult exhibit to organize, and we have to be careful not to normalize mass shootings.”

This is not the first time the NMMA has honored victims of gun violence. The museum has created ofrenda installations dating from the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut in 2012, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Florida in 2018, the Pulse nightclub shooting in Florida in 2016 and the shooting in El Paso, Texas, in 2019.

“You can’t help but look at the headlines and think, ‘Oh, this tragedy needs to be remembered in a way that contains some hope, tragic as it is,'” Moreno said. “We have a long tradition of doing this every year. When Cesar Chavez died in 1993… the UFW [United Farm Workers] came and committed an offence.

NMMA’s “Día de Muertos, Memories & Offerings” exhibit is free and will run through December 11.

In Houston, the nonprofit arts and culture group Multicultural Education and Counseling Through the Arts (MECA) honored Uvalde’s 21 victims, including murals with the children’s names. “We repeat people’s names over and over so they won’t be forgotten,” curator Luis Gavito told KHOU-TV.

Remember – and push for change

In Texas, in addition to altars and commemorations, several Latin American organizations, community leaders and elected Democrats — members of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus — mark Día de los Muertos by marching and advocating for gun control legislation. .

The Marcha de los Niños, or March of the Children, will take place in several cities in a special tribute to the victims of Uvalde.

“We felt it was an opportune time for us to use something that is so important and part of our cultural traditions…as an opportunity to remind people of the tragedy,” the statement said. one of the organizers, Paul Saldaña, co-founder. of the advocacy group Hispanic Advocates Business Leaders of Austin.

Austin organizers will begin their march, led by nine families of victims, on the Capitol steps with a vigil and procession, ultimately ending at the Governor’s mansion in downtown Austin, where an ofrenda will be placed in front the manor.

“I think it serves as a very powerful reminder of what’s at stake,” Saldaña said.

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