Nothing brings together Americans quite like tragedy. And that's exactly what happened in El Paso, Texas on Friday when Antonio Basco held a funeral for his wife of 22 years, Margie Reckard. She was killed during the El Paso shooting earlier this month and had no other relatives in the area besides her husband.
Antonio invited strangers, anyone who was willing to pay their respects to his beloved wife, to her funeral. A Twitter post by CBS' David Begnaud went viral with the invite.
This is Antonio Basco.— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) August 13, 2019
His wife of 22 years, Margie, was murdered in El Paso.
Mr. Basco says he has no other family so he’s inviting anyone, who wants to come, to attend his wife’s services in El Paso:
Friday, August 16th
Perches Funeral Home Northeast 4946 Hondo Pass
And people in El Paso responded. Hundreds flocked to the funeral home, despite the triple digit heat, to honor Margie, a woman none of them had met.
"Never had so much love in my life," Basco told NPR.
The couple moved to El Paso a couple years ago and didn't have any family in the area.
According to a post on the Perches Funeral Home's Facebook page, the couple received such an overwhelming amount of support that they had to relocate the services to a larger venue. The original venue had a maximum capacity of 250 people.
*UPDATE! We really appreciate all the beautiful messages and comments everyone has sent.
Due to the overwhelming response of the community about the funeral services for Margie K. Reckard we will be relocating it to a larger venue at:
La Paz Faith - Perches Funeral Homes
1201 N. Piedras St. El Paso, TX 79930
Friday, August 16th, 2019 at 6 p.m - 10 p.m.
with a Prayer Service 7:00 pm.
Funeral August 17th 9:00am Restlawn Cemetery
8700 Dyer St, El Paso, TX 79904
If you have ordered flowers or have sent cards we will be taking them to the new location.
-Perches Funeral Homes
People stood in line for hours to pay their respects to Reckard. Some showed up with flowers, while others donated artwork.
"Since he opened it to the public, I think it was a way of the community to mourn the whole situation," said Salvador Perches, owner of Perches Funeral Home, which handled Reckard's burial for free.
Tonight is the memorial service for Margie Reckard, who was killed in the mass shooting on August 3rd. Her husband, who does not have other family, opened up the service to the community. Flowers have been donated from around the world. pic.twitter.com/AgU41ko3Sx— Mallory Falk (@malloryfalk) August 16, 2019
In addition to flowers, people are donating original artwork, like this hand carved map of Texas, with a heart marking El Paso pic.twitter.com/q31EUDVrBd— Mallory Falk (@malloryfalk) August 16, 2019
When Mr. Basco entered the funeral home, people got up and cheered.
People rise and clap for Basco as he enters the sanctuary pic.twitter.com/mv1RtUijLB— Mallory Falk (@malloryfalk) August 17, 2019
Nearly two hours into the memorial service, the line of people waiting to pay their respects still stretches for several blocks. pic.twitter.com/X0RxvwxXxs— Mallory Falk (@malloryfalk) August 17, 2019
The funeral company attempted to keep track of the number of people who came to the funeral, but they lost count after 500.
“We didn’t know Margie, but we felt that we should be here to pay our respects to Mr. Basco. I don’t know how it feels to not have anybody,” El Paso resident Dolores Luna told ABC News. “We are his family here in El Paso. That’s why we’re all her to support him.”
Los Angeles resident Jordan Ballard was so moved by Basco's story that she took a flight to El paso to attend Reckard's funeral.
El Paso native turned Los Angeles resident Lisa Cano sent flowers to the funeral home.
"It's good to be able to be involved and be there emotionally or spiritually for the people who are suffering. It's just giving us something to do — we want to do something," Cano told KIVA-TV.
Reckard's son from a previous marriage, Dean, told the New York Times, "She would have been overwhelmed to see all the love El Paso showed her."
Basco thanked those came to the funeral.
"It was the most beautiful thing I've ever seen," Basco told those outside of the cemetery on Saturday. "I love El Paso and [I'm] glad to be your family. Thank you very much. I got the world's largest family."