This is a story of how, when one person goes through tragedy, there are a shocking number of people who are willing to support you through it.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on August 20, 2019. It has since been updated.
August 3, 2019 was a day that shook the city of El Paso, Texas, when mindless violence tore loved ones away. It was something that no one would be able to forget - not the ones who managed to escape by a hair and not the ones who lost their families and friends to the shooting. And amongst those who had to lay their loved ones to rest was a man who lost the only family he had to the devastating incident - his wife of 22 years.
On August 17, a Saturday morning, Antonio Basco said his final goodbye to his beloved Margie Reckard, 63, who had been working at the Walmart where the gunman killed 22 people. And though he invited the community to attend her funeral because he had no other family, he expected a near-empty church.
But to his utter shock, he found people queuing to get into the church to attend the service, reported the BBC, with the line going around the church and along another road.
His wife was murdered.— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) August 17, 2019
He thought he’d bury her alone.
Strangers refused to let it happen. Look at the line of love. #AntonioBasco #MargieReckard pic.twitter.com/Fha68MzupX
The size of the crowd was so enormous that the funeral company had to shift the entire service to a larger facility, according to Today.
Hundreds come to El Paso shooting victim's funeral after husband invites public https://t.co/3zWdwonsmC #10TV pic.twitter.com/Y8i1LsLIrF— 10TV.com (@10TV) August 17, 2019
Unbeknownst to him at the time, his post through Perches Funeral Home had gone viral with the caption, “Let’s show him & his Wife some El Paso Love," reported the NY Daily News. With 14,000 shares at the time of publication, it was a heartwarming moment to see.
As he walked in, Antonio said, "This is incredible." The turnout was a stunning 700 people who traveled from all across the United States after hearing his story reported BBC. Additionally, there were more than 3,000 people who paid their respects Friday night at a visitation for Reckard in El Paso, according to the Perches Funeral Homes.
This is how Antonio Basco was greeted as he made his way into his wife’s memorial “We are your family sir... We’re your family.” #ElPasoStrong pic.twitter.com/anI3KLFoPa— Gadi Schwartz (@GadiNBC) August 17, 2019
"It was the most beautiful thing I've ever seen," he said outside the cemetery early Saturday, speaking about all who have supported him to ABC News. "I love El Paso and [I'm] glad to be your family. Thank you very much," he said. "I got the world's largest family."
And it truly was a special moment as for 22 years, the couple had been together. “When I met her she was an angel and she still is,” Antonio told KFOX-TV, reported NY Daily News.
“I was supposed to be the strong one, but I found out I’m the weak one, and she’s going to be missed a lot.”
“She made me the happiest man in the world.”— CNN (@CNN) August 16, 2019
Every day, Antonio Basco cares for the El Paso Walmart memorial site in honor of his wife, who was one of 22 killed in the shooting.
Hundreds are expected to attend her funeral service today after Basco opened it up to the public. pic.twitter.com/2MNjREWysg
“I mean you didn’t even have to be there to talk to her. You could just look at how she was, how she acted, how she presented herself. She was an awesome lady,” he told the station. “We were gonna live together and die together,” he said. “That was our plan.”
Margie Reckard was an employee of the Walmart where she and 21 others were killed when a gunman opened fire last week. She was married to Antonio Basco for 22 years. https://t.co/fUDEWcCcUP pic.twitter.com/65SUTNs4Kw— ABC News (@ABC) August 14, 2019
As for those who attended the funeral, they too shared their motivation for their participation. Hala Hijazi, who traveled from San Francisco after reading his story told BBC, "It pierced into my heart and soul and made me book a flight to El Paso. We need to show when America is in pain, we are all in pain."
Thank you @DavidBegnaud for your leadership, urgency, and kindness to highlight the story of Antonio Basco and Margie Reckard. Because of you, I arrived in El Paso this morning to attend Margie’s funeral. Antonio will neither be grieving nor praying alone. https://t.co/PeNmT5qXCe— Hala K Hijazi (@hkhijazi) August 16, 2019
Another stranger, Jordan Ballard, who is from Los Angeles, too traveled the distance to show his support. "His story moved me," Jordan told El Paso ABC affiliate KVIA.
Antonio Basco, overwhelmed by loneliness and grief after his wife, Margie Reckard, was slain in the El Paso mass shooting, invited the community to attend her prayer service.— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) August 17, 2019
Thousands of people lined up for several blocks to pay their respects. https://t.co/0rZvtEHYHY
The funeral home director handling the service, Harrison B Johnson, also made the decision to cover the full cost of the funeral. He said to BBC, "We have had a tremendous outpouring of support after we shared the post. It is our privilege to honor and serve the community to try and make that burden lighter after a tragedy that has devastated our community. We just wanted to do our part to help in some small way."