Traditional mexican Day of the dead altar with sugar skulls and candles. Marigolds in major cities in Texas. Image: Getty Images & Alyssa Shotwell.

This Beautiful Día de los Muertos Ofrenda Is Dedicated to the 21 Lives Lost in Uvalde

Feliz día de los Muertos.

It has been five months since an 18-year-old entered Robb Elementary School with his military-grade rifle in Uvalde, Texas, and killed 21 people (19 fourth-grade students and two teachers) and injured 17 more people. As recently as yesterday, when 911 recordings were released, information has come out on how the state failed at every level to protect those kids and staff. This being the first Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) since the shooting, ofrendas have popped up across Texas, if not beyond that, dedicated to those 21 lives lost.

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While many Día de los Muertos activities, from making a sugar skull to festivals and gathering at cemeteries, are joyous and celebratory events, this one is weighed down for many because this mass loss was painful and recent. One particular display has gone viral online as people mourn those who have passed and are angry about the lack of accountability to this day.

@ceciliacruzc920 #uvaldestrong #neverforget #sanantoniotx ♬ Recuérdame (Reencuentro) – Luis Ángel Gómez Jaramillo & Rocío Garcel

Also view TikTok here.

This large ofrenda, supported by 19 school desks representing each of the 19 children, is displayed 90 minutes north of Uvalde at San Antonio’s Muertosfest. Ofrendas (colorful offerings/altars) are tables or displays honoring the dead. They often feature images, trinkets, marigolds (cempasúchil), and favorite things (like food or drink) of the person or people they are honoring. While similar traditions are celebrated in many places, this holiday is most celebrated in Mexico. However, places like the U.S., which has large populations of Mexican Americans (like Texas, California, New Mexico, and Chicago), also celebrate this cultural holiday.

Details in this ofrenda

In this display, students from the area built each desk and placed things each of the children enjoyed, like Pokémon, baseball, and superheroes. One student who made Jacklyn Casares’ portion of the large ofrenda told Texas Public Radio, “She wanted to be a veterinarian. I really focused on that by putting a paw print and then including the four dogs she had.”

Playing over the video is Recuérdame (Reencuentro) by Luis Ángel Gómez Jaramillo and Rocío Garcel from Disney’s Coco. Though it’s not without criticism, Coco overall, from the music to the story, has been widely embraced by Chicanx and the Mexican American community. So, it’s unsurprising to see this song played with another video of ofrendas or about death, especially in this case when the children who passed grew up on this movie and in a city over 80% Mexican American.

These are the names honored:

Makenna Lee Elrod, 10
Layla Salazar, 11
Maranda Mathis, 11
Nevaeh Bravo, 10
Jose Manuel Flores Jr., 10
Xavier Lopez, 10
Tess Marie Mata, 10
Rojelio Torres, 10
Eliahna “Ellie” Amyah Garcia, 9
Eliahna A. Torres, 10
Annabell Guadalupe Rodriguez, 10
Jackie Cazares, 9
Uziyah Garcia
Jayce Carmelo Luevanos, 10
Maite Yuleana Rodriguez, 10
Jailah Nicole Silguero, 10
Irma Garcia, 48
Eva Mireles, 44
Amerie Jo Garza, 10
Alexandria “Lexi” Aniyah Rubio, 10
Alithia Ramirez, 10

(via Twitter, featured image: Getty Images and Alyssa Shotwell)

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Alyssa Shotwell
(she/her) Award-winning artist and writer with professional experience and education in graphic design, art history, and museum studies. She began her career in journalism in October 2017 when she joined her student newspaper as the Online Editor. This resident of the yeeHaw land spends most of her time drawing, reading and playing the same handful of video games—even as the playtime on Steam reaches the quadruple digits. Currently playing: Baldur's Gate 3 & Oxygen Not Included.