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Vigil at a park in the center of Uvalde honored the victims of last year's massacre


In Uvalde, Texas, last night, the public park in the center of town was set aglow by a sea of candles. It was a tribute to the 19 children and two teachers who were killed in the shooting at Robb Elementary School a year ago. The memories are so painful that some of the victims' families left town this week rather than relive them. But others stayed and led an evening vigil to remember their loved ones. NPR's Adrian Florido was there.

ADRIAN FLORIDO, BYLINE: Just before sunset, hundreds of people filled the outdoor amphitheater in Uvalde's Memorial Park. And among the crowd, the families of the victims were easy to spot by the T-shirts they wore bearing the faces of the children they lost. Xavier Lopez's family wore sky blue sports jerseys. The family of Amerie Jo Garza wore black. Tess Mata's family - turquoise.

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UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: (Singing in Spanish).

FLORIDO: When it was time to light the candles, the children who were in the two massacred classrooms but survived went first. They offered their flames to the people around them until the entire amphitheater was bathed in golden candlelight as the names of the victims were read aloud.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Maranda, Alithia, Maite, Annabell, Lexi, Layla, Jailah...

FLORIDO: The shooting at Robb Elementary was the worst school shooting in Texas history. The year since has been excruciating for the families who've struggled to grieve as they've demanded accountability for the failed police response that day but also excruciating for the community, which has fissured and fractured over the shooting's fallout. Last night's vigil was meant to be a brief - very brief - respite from that sadness.

HECTOR GONZALES: Throughout the year there's been times where that sadness just is triggered by, you know, a memory of a child.

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FLORIDO: Hector Gonzales was among the hundreds who lit a candle.

GONZALES: It was nice today to have a ceremony that honored and paid tribute to those children that were so tragically taken away from us that - a year ago today.

FLORIDO: Adrian Florido, NPR News, Uvalde, Texas.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Adrian Florido
Adrian Florido is a national correspondent for NPR covering race and identity in America.