Three families united by tragedy gathered at Lake Findley to remember the loved ones who were taken from them too soon.
On Monday, the families of Ray Gonzalez of Falfurrias, Marcelino Guerra Sr. and Robert Mata of Alice, along with friends and community members celebrated their lives at the second annual Petals on the Lake hosted by the Rio Grande Valley Empowerment Zone (RGVEZ).
“We're out here,once again, to remember. The thing is to celebrate (their lives),” said Jim Wells and Brooks Counties District Attorney Carlos Garcia. “Faith, hope – we still carry that with us and continue to carry it in every event, throughout every holiday, and every time something reminds you of the person (you lost).”
In 2007, Congress designated Sept. 25th as the National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims. Robert and Charlotte Hullinger, of Cincinnati, formed Parents of Murdered Children following the 1978 murder of their 19-year-old daughter, Lisa, while she was studying in Germany. The annual day of observance is on the date Lisa was murdered.
The annual National Day of Remembrance for Murder Victims gives everyone all the opportunity to remember those lost to homicide, and honor their memories. The purpose of this day of remembrance is to focus on the impact of murder on families, and communities, and ways to support and serve survivors.
“Unfortunately, because of a loss that we are here. We also want to create awareness about what National Remembrance Day is,” said Marina Macias with RGVEZ. “Sadly, we're all here united because of a tragedy that happened to each family.”
Guerra and Mata were killed in October 2015 on County Road 464 near Green Acres. They left behind wives, children, and grandchildren. Andres Garza was convicted in September on two charges of murder and aggravated robbery. Garza was sentenced to 125 years in a Texas state prison. Two other men are awaiting trail on their murders.
Gonzalez was murdered at the age of 26 by a gang member in 2015, according to his mom, Melinda Garza. He left behind five children under the age of 9, two sisters and two brothers.
A blessing was bestowed on the families before they released petal into the lake and white balloons into the air in the hopes that their loved ones would read the heartwarming messages written on the balloons.