El Paso Healing Garden Becomes National Monument

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Photo Courtesy / KDBC

El Paso is still recovering from the 2019 Walmart shooting.

Sarah Allard, Writer

The El Paso Community Healing Garden, commissioned in memory of the August 3, 2019 tragedy, has been approved for national memorial status by the House of Representatives. On March 14, Congresswoman Veronica Escobar delivered remarks on the House floor before the bill was passed with bipartisan support. It now awaits action by the Senate and the president. 

“The Congresswoman proposed this piece of legislation to honor the victims of the August 3rd Massacre,” senior and former intern for Congresswoman Escobar Samuel Kligman said.

The Healing Garden was built in Ascarate park in memory of those lost in the 2019 El Paso shooting. The garden consists of greenery, walkways, and a wall with the names of all 23 victims etched on it.

“The garden is magnificent,” Kligman said. “It conveys emotion without being overbearing and its semi-circle design adds aesthetic value.”

The Garden was built and designed as a memorial as well as a testament to the strength of the El Paso community in the face of hate and tragedy. The shooting that occured on the afternoon of August 3, 2019 in that east side Walmart changed El Paso forever uniting the community in solidarity with its Hispanic roots in the face of hate.

“It was a confusing time for me, I was scared to go out after that,” senior Benji Arias said. “I was at work and had to cancel a lady’s order because she had to rush to the hospital to work. I didn’t know she was responding to the shooting until later”.

The garden was opened to the public and dedicated to the victims on the one year anniversary of the tragedy.

“I believe that this garden has created a space for reflection and remembrance within the community,” Kligman said.

The bill to establish the Garden as a national memorial was introduced by Congresswoman Escobar in July of 2021, and was approved by the House of Representatives on Mar. 14, 2022. Before the bill was passed, Escobar delivered a few remarks highlighting the significance of this bill to the El Paso community.

“I rise today for my legislation, but also rise in memory of the 23 souls who were killed by a domestic terrorist. I rise for the 22 other victims who were injured in the attack,” Escobar said.  “And I rise for their loved ones – their families, friends, and for an entire community rocked by white supremacy.”

If the bill is approved by the Senate and President Biden in the coming year, it will be the El Paso area’s second national memorial along with the Chamizal and join memorials such as  Mount Rushmore and the Lincoln Memorial with its national memorial status.

“For too long, mainstream media has ignored the gun violence that has plagued minority communities,” Kligman said. “This would legitimize minority voices who have become victims of gun violence.”