Boy Shot in Uvalde Massacre Goes Back to School With Photo of Murdered Classmates on His Chest
AJ Martinez was living a perfect life until the day a gunman entered his classroom. The sound of gunshots still echoed in his ears when he returned to school months later, wearing a photo of his murdered classmates on his chest.
They say time heals all wounds, but many people would agree that the grief of losing a loved one stays with us forever. It might lessen with time as we divert our attention toward other things, but the sadness never leaves our hearts.
Today's story is about a ten-year-old boy who saw his classmates and teachers being murdered before his eyes. The memories kept haunting him for months, but he decided to overcome his fears by returning to school with a smile.
The Life-Changing Day
On May 24, 2022, AJ Martinez was sitting in his Robb Elementary classroom in Uvalde, Texas, when he saw a gunman walk through the door. Martinez heard the man say, "Goodbye," before mercilessly opening fire.
Martinez remembers hiding under backpacks as the deafening sound of gunshots echoed in the classroom. The haunting memories of that day were etched in his mind. He couldn't erase them even if he tried to.
Soon, police officers and other authorities surrounded the school and ultimately stopped the gunman from causing more harm. However, the damage had been done. While some students and teachers lost their lives, others returned with memories they never wanted to make.
Back to School
More than three months later, after multiple physical therapy sessions, Martinez walked out of his house wearing a shirt with a picture of his murdered classmates and teachers. It wasn't easy for him to smile after spending days and nights thinking about the horrifying incident.
Since Robb Elementary had shut down after the mass shooting, children had moved to other schools or had opted for online classes. Martinez told his mother he wanted to attend school in person, so he joined Flores Elementary. He said:
"I'm nervous because I'm not used to this school."
United against Violence
"My teachers and classmates forever," Martinez said with a smile as he walked with his mother, Kassandra Chavez, on the first day of his new school with photos of 19 students and two teachers on his chest. Chavez stated:
"I'm just trying to be there supporting him. That's all I can [do]."
While Chavez wore a shirt saying "Uvalde Strong," the teachers at her son's new school were dressed in maroon and white, the colors of Robb Elementary. Everyone in Uvalde was devastated after hearing about the school shooting.
Chavez remembered when Martinez felt sad and angry about not seeing his classmates and teachers again. While he cried, Chavez wrapped her arms around him and told him to be strong. She told him:
"Because that's what they [his teachers and classmates] would want you to do. Remember them, carry their legacy, like they would want you to do."
Most students who lost their lives in the tragic shooting were around ten years old. Their parents had waved them goodbye before sending them to school, not knowing they would never see their little ones again.
They Lost Their Lives
"We told her we loved her and would pick her up after school. We had no idea this was goodbye," said Kimberly Rubio, mother of Lexi Rubio, a high-achiever at Robb Elementary. Lexi's parents were devastated to know their daughter was no more.
Another girl who lost her life in the shooting incident was Jacklyn Jaylen Cazares, whose dad was standing outside the school premises with the fathers of other students, hoping their children were safe.
"There were five or six of [us] fathers, hearing the gunshots, and [police officers] were telling us to move back," Jacinto Cazares recalled. Hours later, he learned that his little angel was no more.
Besides the 19 students who lost their lives, there were two teachers, Irma Garcia and Eva Mireles, who passed away protecting their students. They were fourth-grade teachers who wanted nothing but success for their students.
Apart from being teachers, these incredible women were mothers. Their children miss them every day, but they feel proud of their mothers, knowing they died a hero. They sacrificed their lives to save their students.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the students and teachers who lost their lives in the devastating incident. We hope children like Martinez carry their legacy forward.
Click here to read about the heartbreaking letter the daughter of Eva Mireles shared days after her mother lost her life in the school shooting incident.
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