Siblings Gilbert, Gracie and Gabriel Borunda say a prayer for the Sandy Hook Elementary victims during a candlelight vigil on the Chaves County Courthouse lawn, Thursday night. (Mark Wilson Photo)
In memory of all those lost to violence, concerned citizens of Roswell stood together Thursday night for a candlelight vigil on the front lawn of the Chaves County Courthouse. The community prayed for people affected by the school shooting in Connecticut, for peace in Jerusalem, for American soldiers overseas and for the families affected by recent home invasions.
“I believe that it’s very important that the community gets an opportunity to discuss and to pray about the shooting in Connecticut,” said Capt. Beau Perez of The Salvation Army, who led the prayer. “That has deeply disturbed many people in town, and for us to have an opportunity as a community to pray together I think is a very healing thing.
“When people are hurt and dismayed and deeply troubled by an event like this, people need an opportunity to speak about it in a safe place amongst other people who have been touched by it and can understand that. And hopefully, (we can) start bringing some closure to this.”
Resident Melissa Duran was just one of several people who came up with the idea to hold a candlelight vigil in Roswell.
“We all found each other on Facebook,” Duran said. “It was like God brought us together to bring this community together, to heal the community.”
Artesia residents Judy Caldwell and her daughter Arielle, both originally from Roswell, came to the vigil in light of all the violence that has come about in Roswell.
“This is her way of wanting to bring everyone together,” Caldwell said, speaking for a tearful Arielle. “She wanted to let everyone know that there’s a reason for the season, and it’s to get everybody together to share and unite this community together once again, to stand up and go against the evil. She wanted a blanket of prayer to be put over the city of Roswell.”
Mary Sanchez, Arielle’s aunt, said she believed that it’s time for people to stand up for their nation in prayer. Above everything else, Sanchez said she is concerned with gang activity.
“I think that gangs affect everyone,” Sanchez said. “Not just a certain person and their family. But the violence, the drugs — they affect the parents, children and generations to come, and it’s time to stop and invite God back into Roswell, into our nation, into our schools.”
Nicole Vargas with Adopt-A-Soldier said a big reason she attended was in memory of her friend Saul Sanchez, who was lost in a recent home invasion.
“We’re not even safe in our homes right now,” Vargas said. “And with law enforcement, they’re working tirelessly and they probably don’t even know what to start working on. I mean, can you imagine right now?
“And then with the kids in Connecticut, it’s just like — what is going on? It’s like the world just started spinning out of control.”
Vargas said that despite it all, Thursday night was a chance for Roswell to pave a path to a brighter future. “I thought this was the perfect opportunity to come together and say a prayer for the Sanchez family, for law enforcement, and even for the people who are causing trouble. I know it’s desperate times right now, but instead of them turning to violence, they should turn to Jehovah.
“So maybe we can put some kind of calmness and peacefulness over the city of Roswell. It can’t hurt.”