EL PASO, Texas -- Saturday was a milestone moment in El Paso's recovery after the deadly Aug. 3 Cielo Vista Walmart mass shooting attack that claimed 22 lives and left 26 others wounded.
The "Grand Candela," Walmart's permanent memorial to the victims of the tragedy, was publicly dedicated in a ceremony on Saturday morning. (You can watch the ceremony in the video player at the top of this article.)
"A memorial is important to the healing process," proclaimed Todd Peterson, the Walmart regional manager whose territory includes El Paso, during the brief ceremony.
The lighted memorial is comprised of 22 individual perforated aluminum arcs - one in memory of each of those killed - grouped together into one, single 30-foot huge candle.
El Paso Dee Margo told the small crowd gathered for the dedication that the memorial ensured the victims of the August tragedy would not be forgotten.
A blessing of the monument was conducted by El Paso's Catholic Bishop Mark Seitz, who said it served as reminder of the light of God's presence - and a symbol of overcoming hatred. He also expressed hope that the candella's light would reach deep into the hearts and souls of hurting El Pasoans and bring healing.
That blessing was followed by the symbolic release of 22 doves, one representing each life lost, into the sky to end the ceremony.
On Friday night, Walmart had officially lit the "Grand Candela" for the first time during a private gathering for victims’ families and survivors ahead of Saturday's dedication.
A Walmart spokesperson said the design was "inspired by the cultural significance of candles in commemorating important moments" and added that it is intended to "symbolize the community's unity and strength while emanating light into the sky."
The "Grand Candela" is the focal point of a small plaza built on the south side of the newly re-opened store's parking lot; it is enclosed by decorative metal fencing and landscaped with native and adaptive plants.