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Uvalde parents remember their children one year after Robb Elementary shooting

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UVALDE, Texas — Time has neither healed wounds nor answered lingering questions for many of the families who lost their children and loved ones when a gunman unleashed a barrage of bullets at Robb Elementary School last year. 

In the 12 months since one of the bloodiest school shootings in U.S. history transformed this quiet Texas community into another example of the nation’s complicated relationship with guns, the parents of the children killed last May 24 have not moved on. Nineteen children and two teachers were killed in the carnage, which left 17 wounded.

Some have harnessed their anger into political action, wielding it like a shield to protect themselves from getting lost in their pain. Others have seen their worlds shrink under the weight of unrelenting grief, with only close friends and family allowed inside their increasingly insular worlds.

Of the six parents NBC interviewed in Uvalde, all said the shooting remains fresh in their minds. They said they still expect to hear their children’s voices when they wake up in the morning or when someone tells a joke that would have made their kids laugh. They have built makeshift memorials filled with toys, photos and other memories that have remained as vibrant as the day they were made. 

“We take it day by day,” said Brett Cross, whose 10-year-old son, Uziyah Garcia, was among those killed last year. “There’s no good days anymore. There’s just all-right days.”

Uziyah’s dad

On a breezy April afternoon, Brett Cross slowly shook his head as he gazed at his son’s memorial in the Uvalde town square. It’s just one of almost two dozen similar memorials surrounding a large fountain in a lush municipal park. Murals of the 21 victims light up public walls throughout the city, turning Uvalde into an outdoor gallery filled with colorful works by various Texas artists.

Adorned with flowers and handwritten notes, Uziyah’s memorial stands apart from the others with its oversize stuffed lion and red Spiderman basket.

“Time doesn’t heal,” Cross said, exhausted from a recent trip to Austin where he joined other families and advocates pushing for a gun bill that would raise the minimum age from 18 to 21 for buying an assault-style weapon.  

Cross has become a full-time gun reform activist and one of the most vocal proponents of new gun laws in the year since his son was killed, driving three hours every week to the Texas capital to champion tougher laws that supporters say would prevent future tragedies. He now has more than 58,000 followers on Twitter, regularly speaks with elected leaders and trained himself to speak out after mass shootings.

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