EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Walmart’s memorial honoring the victims of the Aug. 3 mass shooting has been lighted and is now open to the public.
The Grand Candela,” or “Big Candle,” has 22 pillars representing the 22 lives lost. A plaque is placed in front dedicating the memorial to the victims in both English and Spanish. The 30-foot tall golden obelisk, ” was revealed to the public during a morning ceremony Saturday in the parking lot of the Walmart.
“I prefer seeing this than just that emptiness that you know when you pass by you just see this dark empty space,” said Deborah Anchondo, the sister of shooting victim Andre Anchondo.
However, Deborah Anchondo said she wishes Walmart had waited to re-open the store until after the memorial was completed.
“They could have waited until tomorrow to open, but you know I’m not going got focus on that. I believe that this is something that’s going to help the community kind of have a little bit of closure,” Deborah Anchondo said.
It’s been over a week since the store re-opened. Walmart officials at the memorial unveiling said that they have been overwhelmed by the number of people who have visited the store and the support they have shown.
A private lighting was held Friday night for the families of those who died and for those who survived the attack, including the 25 people who were wounded.
“This is their Walmart and they’re not going to let the events of August 3rd define them and decide where they want to shop and where they want to spend their time,” said Todd Peterson, vice president and regional general manager of Walmart. “It speaks to the content of the character of those individuals who live in El Paso who live in Juarez and who shop at this store.”
“With this memorial, we have determined that this will bring us together and this will make us stronger and this will make us more El Paso than we were before,” El Pasoan Erik Nabors said. “So if anybody wanted to change El Paso, you failed. We are stronger than we ever were before.”
According to Walmart, it was important to make something that could be seen on both sides of the border since many Mexican nationals were also killed. This is in an effort to help both communities heal.
“I think the candela is a tremendous monument and the description is reflective of our region,” Mayor Dee Margo said. “Walmart has done a fantastic job both with the management of the store, the changes that have gone on, their listening to their associates and it’s part of the healing process in my mind.”
El Paso Diocese Bishop Mark J. Seitz, speaking in both English and Spanish in the border city that is home to many Latinos, called the site sacred and said he hopes it shows people can “respond to weapons of hatred with weapons of love.”
Days before the store reopened following a renovation, a makeshift memorial that had been behind the building was taken down.
Police say 21-year-old Patrick Crusius drove more than 10 hours from his home near Dallas to carry out the attack.
Crusius has pleaded not guilty to capital murder charges in the attack. Prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty.
The Grand Candela is open to the public 24 hours a day and will have security present. However, Walmart encourages people to visit during store hours which is 6 a.m. till midnight.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.