One year ago today, a tragedy shook El Paso to its very core.

One year ago, a gunman entered the Wal Mart near Cielo Vista Mall and opened fire,  killing a total of 23 and wounding countless others both mentally and physically. I remember the confusion well ... "someone got shot", then "several people have been shot", then "people are still being shot". It just kept getting worse and worse.

I was leaving town and remember feeling so powerless, being unable to do anything except listen for updates and pray. I couldn't comfort anyone or help in any way at all and that was a terrible feeling. I was touched though, while away, by the fact that everyone I talked to in Sturgis throughout the following week, upon hearing that I was from El Paso, all shook my hand or hugged me and expressed their sympathy for our city. Complete strangers. It was surreal, hearing the condolences of people from all over the country and the world for the little old, west Texas town of El Paso.

In the days that followed, there was confusion, sadness and disbelief. Who? Why? In the aftermath of it all, a new spirit was born here - The El Paso Strong mentality. We rose together, cried together and healed together with that simple, unifying statement binding us to one another. 3 little words that said so much, both to we El Pasoans and to the world. That spirit kept us going and still does as we face another rough time with this pandemic. I was amazed by "us" then and I still am. That spirit remains strong.

So much for where we were, here's where we are. The gunman is still going through all the official, legal stuff that has to happen and no clear verdict or punishment has been reached. We remain El Paso Strong as we deal with COVID-19 and all its related problems and issues, carrying calmy and quietly on as we always do. No riots, no flag burning, no "pedos". We just keep doing what needs to be done ... you can knock El Paso down, but you cannot keep her down.

There's nowhere to go but up now folks. We'll remember August 3rd, 2019 today and cry a little and have a few shots together but, tomorrow, it's back to normal. Back to carrying on in the face of whatever adversity comes along next. Back to being a city where people truly care about one another while still taking care of business. Back to being El Paso Strong.

I'm proud of you El Paso. I'm proud to call you my friends and proud to tell others that this is where I come from.

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