EL PASO - Today the names of 61 people were added to the Crime Victims Memorial Plaque in a ceremony that pays tribute to those who have lost their lives to violent crime.
Families remembered someone they loved after every ring of a bell, not just a name, but a person who lost their life to violent crime. The names of 1,300 people are now engraved on the plaque, and dozens have been added this year alone.
"This year there were 61 additional names, and of those about 40 are names of El Pasoans that lost their life due to the violence in Juarez," District Attorney Jaime Esparza said.
Esparza says today's ceremony shows surviving family members, now victims themselves, that El Paso is here for them.
"I think the most important thing that happens here today is that the community comes together recognizing that victims are suffering, that victims have rights and that this community cares," Esparza said.
Peter Porras is one of those surviving victims. His sister was killed in 2006, and he says this annual ceremony has helped his family.
"It's been about five years, and we share our stories to help other people heal, and we get other people's stories, something that will help us heal," Porras said.
Some people might think it would be hard to re-live the pain every year, and they might be right. Porras says the grieving never ends, but he also says his memories are no longer just about his sister's death.
"It's now more of a celebration of her life, of what she was and who she was, and the light she brought to everybody around her," he said.
Two young boys now carry that light. Porras sister was forced to leave them behind, and now they both celebrate their mother's life every year, just like hundreds of other families who have been victims of violent crime.
"I love my sister, and I will always love her. My life is now devoted to raising those two boys as my own, and I'm hoping to keep her memory alive," Porras said.