May 26 Letters to the Editor

Dear editor,

I’ve spent some time in Uvalde. For years, I would regularly make the drive down from San Antonio, sometimes on a weekly basis. I worked with a local rancher and his wife to restore and expand a house in town. My husband and I still drop in to visit with them when we have the time, passing through on our way back to Marfa. They are vibrant characters and we relish the chance to share a laugh with them over ice tea and cookies.

“Now, don’t figure from both ends of your pencil!” my client would often say.

On one visit, I was flattered to learn that their house was considered so attractive, the local high schoolers were having their prom pictures taken in the front yard.

Uvalde is a small town much like ours, except for the majestic Live Oaks that grow in the middle of the roads. The courthouse defines the center of town, bedecked in lights and tinsel for Christmas and flags for the 4th of July. There’s the big Stripes like ours, known for its good breakfast tacos. The First State Bank of Uvalde — one of my favorite works of architecture in all of Texas, for the record — is like a window back in time and into the imagination of former governor Dolph Briscoe, a notable local rancher and businessman.

Uvalde is bigger than Marfa, but I get the impression that everyone knows everyone, and based on my clients’ stress during our construction process, people there won’t hesitate to weigh in on a neighbor’s business. Having resettled to Marfa from city life, I view this as a positive exchange: that of relative anonymity for a palpable connection to community (and occasionally nosy neighbors).

In a small town, our mutual familiarity can provide a safety net for those who are struggling.  In Uvalde, someone slipped through that net, and now a community of 16,000 individuals has been shattered by the needless loss of innocent lives. The thought makes my heart contract.  Not a single person in that town will go untouched by this senseless act of violence.

Like so many, I am angry that our state leaders have set their priorities on the rights of troubled individuals to purchase weapons of war. It now seems apparent that in Texas, we value a thriving gun industry more than the lives of our friends, our neighbors, our children. If these leaders are to be believed, the solution is to further fortify our schools, now with the added security that only more guns can provide. Last year, our legislature passed Open Carry over the objections of our law enforcement. It’s madness.

I pray for change, but dread the cost that will bear out until that day comes.

By the grace of God, we are not Uvalde. This is Marfa. We’re a tiny town in the middle of nowhere. Our protection will not come from Austin or Washington. We’re out here on our own, and we are protected only by our own vigilance — not only for explicit acts of aggression, but for the risks posed by those among us who may be volatile.  As the wife of a public servant, it has been assuring to observe that these dangers are actively monitored by our local officials and law enforcement. Their efforts often go unacknowledged.

Speaking for myself, my husband, and some of our friends, we have been working on projects that will address the lack of mental health resources in Marfa, with the hope of bolstering our community’s overall health and safety. Those projects will hopefully materialize next year.

As for today, we should take Uvalde’s tragedy as our own. We should come together as a community; we should grieve along with these families and give them what support we can.  We should also be reminded to fortify our own safety net in the wake of this tragedy. We should check in on our neighbors and mobilize for our common good.

Our leaders will continue this theater of empty promises. Pointless tragedy will take the lives of innocent people. Sadly, our only real hope for immediate change lies in the vitality and connectedness of our community.

Let us stand with Uvalde. And may we never forget.

Hilary Scruggs Beebe

Marfa, TX


To the Editor:

Their parents dropped those kids off at school yesterday morning. They had summer plans, if only baseball and swimming. 

Their survivors will live through Memorial Day weekend, July 4, Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, the New Year and birthdays…but life as they know it is over, replaced with the grief and anger they will carry until death.

Our state is controlled by politicians who worship guns and masculinity. Thoughts and prayers. Right to life, except for those children and teachers from Uvalde. Constitutional Carry, Critical Race Theory, LGBTQ, Voter Fraud? Why can’t we stop the massacre of school children? Where do Cruz, Cornyn and Abbott stand on the slaughter of children with legal guns? If only they had been unborn. 

The shooter bought the two rifles he took to Robb Elementary School shortly after turning 18 this month. He used an AR-15 to kill 19 fourth graders and their teachers. Twenty-one are dead and 17 injured.

It’s not about an 18 year old with an AR-15 and body armor — it’s about mental health, according to our governor. How much time, effort and money did he put behind mental health legislation last summer? And how much on guns?

God Bless Texas.

Vance Knowles

Marfa, TX