In a small town like Uvalde, it is impossible to avoid the shock wave of what happened on Tuesday morning.
It’s as if everyone here knows someone who has been caught up in the horrors of the deadliest school shooting in the United States for almost a decade.
Throughout the day, residents weaved their way past police roadblocks and film crews to pay their respects to the Robb Elementary School.
The spectacular thunderstorms that hit the city in the hours after the shooting had dissipated to give way to clear, wet blue skies. In the heat, they handed out flowers and balloons to the Texas State Troopers who stood guard at the school.
The disbelief, the horror, the anger that this could happen in a quiet, residential area like this was palpable.
“I didn’t want to let go of my kids this morning,” Amanda Welch said. “It’s hard to find the words for this. I’m just numb.”
The stories of those who lost their lives in their class, they are told now. The cut short lives, the teachers who tried to protect them.
Even the biggest questions of how America deals with a problem seemingly unique to it – horrific levels of gun violence – seem somewhat meaningless in the torrent of grief in this city.
Their politicians seemed deaf to this sensibility with the unseemly shouting match at governor’s press conference. It was proof, if anyone needed it, that this debate rages on.
It is somewhat incongruous to see volunteers with their therapy dogs, people from the church offering spiritual support, the outpouring of love and kindness from the community, in a context of such horrendous violence.
America is a land of such contradictions – and few answers.
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