Texas parents, teachers and students wear maroon to honor Uvalde victims

A young woman wears a “Uvalde Strong” shirt as she attends a vigil for the victims of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School. (Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Texas wears maroon and white to show they are #UvaldeStrong.

Teachers, students and staff across the state of Texas donned the colors on September 6th to honor the victims of the Uvalde, Texas mass shooting that took place on May 24th at Robb Elementary School. Tuesday marks the first time the Uvalde Unified Independent School District (UCISD) has held classes since 19 children and two teachers were killed by an 18-year-old gunman.

While UCISD held a vegetable day, other school districts across the state rallied their Facebook followers to wear crimson and white, the official colors of UCISD.

Joanna Cattanach, a Latina activist and educator who lives in North Texas and shared a photo of her 7-year-old son Daniel wearing maroon on his way to school, got in on the fashion statement. Taking the photo was especially difficult since many parents of Uvalde’s victims are still grieving, but he says it’s important to keep their memories alive.

“Days like today remind me how hard it is to be a parent in Texas,” she tells Yahoo Life. “We are reminded in times like today what our children may face and that feeling of helplessness is not far away.”

Explaining the importance of wearing maroon to her son was a grim reminder of why she and other parents need to keep talking about gun safety.

“I had to sit with him for a while Sesame Street played in the background and explained, to a 7-year-old, that a bad man with a gun hurt kids and teachers in Uvalde, and he and others are wearing maroon to make those kids and families feel better again,” says Cattanach. We talked, again, about what happens if someone tries to hurt him or his friends. To listen. To hide. Run. Fight. He said, “drop wood chips.” And I agreed.”

Rhonda Meredith, a first-grade teacher in the Pasadena Independent School District in Harris County, tells Yahoo Life that it’s important for educators to come together, too — for the future of their students’ safety.

“Educators need to come together to better protect ourselves and our students,” explains Meredith. “Having an active shooter exercise is stressful for everyone. And actually, the drills won’t fully prepare us.”

“I look forward to more counselors on campus being proactive with student mental health. I look forward to not having to worry about a criminal trying to trespass and harm someone else,” he says of the future. “We have to change our hearts as a society. We need to seek help and not grab a gun or assault weapon. We need to protect our children.”

Cattanach and Meredith aren’t the only ones sharing their stories on social media.

Brett Cross, who lost his son Uzziah Garcia in the Robb Elementary shooting, shared a heartbreaking photo of his son’s ashes on Twitter, calling it a “bittersweet” day.

“Seeing all these baby pictures from the first day of school puts a smile on my face but the hole in my heart is burning,” she wrote next to a picture of Uzyah’s ashes next to a picture of his first day of school .

“He’ll never be able to lace up new kicks, rock a new favorite hoodie, or try his new cologne,” Cross continued. “For many, this crimson is a one-time thing that America will slowly but surely forget. But this is our life. This is a “first day of school picture” life. We cannot wear maroon clothes for a day. We wear these shirts, shirts with our children’s faces on them for the rest of our lives. As cliché as it sounds, hug your babies tighter, let them stay awake a few minutes later, let their trivial annoyance fill your heart, because I’d give anything to experience that again.”

Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, wore maroon in solidarity with her organization’s volunteers: “We don’t have to live like this. Children should never die like this.”

Brianna Robinson, a mom of two and fifth-grade teacher at McGown Elementary School in Cypress, shared a photo of her little ones wearing maroon while encouraging other parents to “hug their babies this morning.”

“Today and every day since my heart goes out to the Uvalde community,” Robinson tweeted along with the photos. “As these parents hug their babies this morning for the first day of school, I hugged my sweet angel a little tighter. May the school once again become a safe haven for these beautiful children.”

Senator Roland Gutierrez, who represents District 19, also took a moment to remember the victims of Uvalde.

“Today, wear maroon to show support #Uvalde as children and teachers return to classrooms. We will always remember the tragedy that happened on May 24th,” he tweeted next to the Uvalde CISD logo. “Keep the victims, survivors and community in your thoughts and prayers. #UvaldeStrong.”

Throughout the day, they continued to share stories.

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