UVALDE – A 15-foot metal cross has a new home in Uvalde after coming from a town west of Fort Worth with the help of a motorcade.
Just before he arrived, a group helping to place him in the ground gathered to say a prayer.
“Father God, thank you for this day. Thank you for bringing us all together on this day which promises to be rich in emotions.
Moments later, a series of vehicles and motorcycles with Patriot Guard Riders escorted the truck pulling a trailer with the cross hanging behind.
The location of the cross is in a bond shop owned by one of the victim’s aunts from Robb Elementary School.
This 15 foot cross was from Mineral Wells, TX. Michael Collins and a few others did it by hand. They drove it here today to give families a place to come and remember their loved ones. Michael knows the pain of losing a child firsthand. This story tonight @ 10 @ksatnews pic.twitter.com/4UW6YgJgNS
— Leigh Waldman (@LeighWaldman) June 18, 2022
“We’re going to have to get our hands dirty so it doesn’t turn into a squirrel. Until this one gets tight,” said cross maker Michael Collins.
Collins helped lead the team by lifting the cross from the trailer and into the dug hole in the ground. They used a piece of machinery to help.
Once in the hole, the team held things in place as Uvalde’s welders secured it in the ground.
When this happened, Collins was cleaning the trailer when he found a cut out heart and called the woman who owned the store.
“Brenda, Brenda. It fell from within. Do you want it?” he said.
She nodded, holding the heart close to her chest.
When the cement truck arrived, Collins went to speak with some of the crowd that had gathered. In that crowd was Amerie Jo Garza’s father, Alfred Garza. He did not know that the cross was placed there.
Garza received a wooden carving of a cross.
“Any other family must come. We have a gift for them,” Collins said.
Collins placed a wreath at the bottom of the cross, admiring the work he and the team did to get it there.
“I don’t know if it was my son who told me to build it or God. It was as if someone had hit me on the head. I got goosebumps, my hair stood on end and I started crying. And I said, ‘I have to build them a cross,’ he explained.
“He called me the next day. Dad said, ‘I’m going to build a cross.’ He said, ‘I don’t know how I’m going to do it, but I’m going to build a cross,’” Michael Collins II added as he stood next to his father and namesake.
After a seven-hour drive, welders and cement pouring, the 15-by-12-foot cross has a permanent home, flying alongside doves.
“I’m very proud of it, for the way it looks. Other than that, other than that, it’s going to be a nightmare for me,” Collins said standing next to her artwork.
He calls this cross his third baby. Her first was for Brady, her son, who died in a car accident at 26.
“He was staring you in the eye before you knew what happened, but he had a good soul,” Collins said with a knowing laugh.
On the cross there is a slot which Collins says is for the letters to Heaven. It is placed there so that all children can write to the friends they have lost, knowing that their words will remain safe and intact.
“Hopefully in a month they have to put them there because it’s so full,” Collins said.
In a city that has turned into a living memorial, growing and changing day by day, Collins believes this cross, made by a father mourning his son, will have an impact.
“By making this cross and living and being near my baby’s cross every day, that’s what I knew these people needed,” Collins said.
Collins started a GoFundMe to get the supplies needed to do the cross. Anything left over will go to the families of the victims.
When the day was over, the group held hands around the cross they had planted, bowed their heads and prayed again.
“We just pray that we can continue to share our love that you have given us in our hearts to all those families and individuals who are suffering. We thank you for the safe journeys, for all the blessings you give us. It is in the name of Jesus that I pray… amen.
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