Irma Garcia was “elated” to start the new school year, she wrote to her students last year. “This is my 23rd year of teaching. And always here at Robb Elementary.” The welcome word is still on her profile page on the website of the elementary school in the Texas town of Uvalde, where an 18-year-old gunman abruptly ended Garcia’s life on Tuesday, that of her co-teacher Eva Mireles and 19 children in their group-6. .
In American media, the 46-year-old teacher has become a heroine in recent days. She is said to have been found by the emergency services after the massacre with some dead “children in her arms, protecting them until her last breath”. wrote her cousin John Martinez on Twitter†
Also read this report from Uvalde: ‘I’ve always prayed that something like this wouldn’t happen in Uvalde’
On Thursday, the Garcia family was hit by even more suffering. While Irma’s husband Joe was preparing for his wife’s funeral, he himself passed away. Shortly after laying flowers at the makeshift memorial site for the 21 victims, the widower likely suffered a heart attack. “He died of grief,” stated cousin John† The couple leaves behind four children between the ages of 23 and 13.
In her welcome letter writes Irma Garcia that she likes barbecuing with her husband, “whom I have been married for 24 years”. Other hobbies: listening to music and going on trips to Concan, a nearby village along the river Frio, which offers all kinds of water fun. She does not mention that she was named Teacher of the Year in 2019 by her school district UCISD. Her students remember her as an inexhaustible source of enthusiasm and positivism.
Elsewhere on his website, ohUnder the ‘Keep UCISD Safe’ tab, the school district reports what it is doing about safety. In addition to its own police force, there is also the information campaign ‘Meld het! … Don’t ignore it!’. Parents are urged to seek help from counselors if “you have any concerns about your child.”
The gunman, who was knocked out by a border guard on Tuesday, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos also had the necessary problems. His mother struggled with a drug addiction and he was mainly raised by his grandmother (whom he shot before going to school). He once injured himself with a knife, was always very private and is said to have been bullied as a student, former classmates told American media in recent days.
Irma Garcia was voted Teacher of the Year in 2019. Photo family archive/via REUTERS
The school took the necessary measures against ‘bullying’, bullying and harassing. For example, the site shows some winning entries from the drawing competition in which children of all classes had to make anti-bullying posters. In the affected group 4 to 6 won Alithia Martinez with a drawing around the text: ‘Kindness takes courage’.
‘Idolatry of weapons’
A Catholic memorial service for Irma Garcia continued on Thursday evening, but after the death of her husband Joe, his memory was suddenly also dominated. Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller celebrated mass in the Sacred Heart Church of Uvalde. The four orphaned children attended and received a hug from the cardinal at the end.
Immediately afterwards the senior cleric spoke remarkably candidly to some Spanish-language media on the politically sensitive issue of gun ownership in the US. “Weapons,” said Mexican-born García-Siller, “are idolized in this country, especially in Texas. We all understand that well-trained people [met wapens] and are necessary in certain professions to maintain order in a society.”
But, he went on to say with restrained anger: “This idolatry of weapons now takes on such forms that people become numbers, waste. The dead mean little anymore.”
Also read: An armed security guard at the door makes American schools less safe
A version of this article also appeared in the newspaper of May 28, 2022