“I think most of the country is still in shock,” organizer Felicity Flippen told the crowd of men, women and children. “These are the people we want to remember; these are the stories we want to share.”
Along the steps of the plaza stage stood 58 candles, one for every person killed in the Sunday tragedy.
Through tears, Flippen read off the names one by one, along with a short biography, as each candle was lit. A teacher, a veteran, a mother, a college student … on and on until every candle held a small flame.
“I should not have to read six pages of names,” Flippen said.
But she did, as a light drizzle fell and the crowd held high candles of their own in remembrance.
One of those names was Lisa Romero-Muniz, who worked as a secretary at a Gallup high school. Her cousin Ashley Romero lit the candle.
“It was a blessing knowing that I was able to do that for her,” said Romero, who described her 48-year-old cousin as a happy-go-lucky person who loved her family and the students she looked out for.
“It means a lot for everybody to be out here,” Romero said of the vigil, adding that it’s been a tough week.
“It’s pretty heartbreaking for all of us,” she said. “It’s going to be a long recovery, but we’ll get through it.”
Romero planned to take the candle home, keeping it burning for her cousin.