It shouldn't take a celebrity to make us all sit up and pay attention, but Matthew McConaughey's powerful White House speech on Tuesday did just that.
McConaughey, a Uvalde native, was in Washington, D.C. to call on legislators to address gun control. During his speech in the White House briefing room, he also eulogized several of the victims who died in the shooting at Robb Elementary on May 24.
He shared that one of the victims, 10-year-old Maite Rodriguez, dreamed of becoming a marine biologist when she grew up and loved animals and the environment. She often wore a pair of green high-top Converse sneakers—her favorite color—with a heart she drew in marker on the toe of the right shoe.
McConaughey gestured for his wife, Camila Alves McConaughey, to hold up the replica of Maite's shoes during his speech.
"These are the same green Converse on her feet that turned out to be the only clear evidence that could identify her after the shooting," he said.
He then slammed the podium in anger while growing emotional. McConaughey explained that the bodies of the 19 children and two teachers who were killed were "mutilated" by the exit wounds from the AR-15 rile used to shoot them. It has been reported that in many cases, DNA tests were necessary to identify the victims because they were left largely unrecognizable.
“Many children were left not only dead but hollow,” McConaughey sad.
It's a horrifying reality, but a reality we must face nonetheless.
The actor and his family traveled back to his hometown of Uvalde in the wake of the shooting to meet with the victims' families, coroners, and funeral directors. He said the thing each of these grieving families told him was that they didn't want their loved ones to have died in vain—and that they didn't want any other families to endure what they're currently enduring ever again.
“The common thread—independent of the anger and the confusion and sadness—it was the same," he said. "How can these families continue to honor these deaths by keeping the dreams of these children and teachers alive? Again, how can the loss of these lives matter?”
He called out politicians from "both sides" for failing to take action on gun control. He called for universal background checks and for raising the age to buy assault rifles from 18 to 21 while implementing a national waiting period for assault rifles as well.
"Can both sides see beyond the political problem at hand and admit that we have a life preservation problem on our hands?” he asked. “We’re got to take a sober, humble and honest look in the mirror and rebrand ourselves based on what we truly value."
He urged those in power to realize that "responsible gun owners are fed up with the Second Amendment being abused and hijacked by some deranged individuals.”
“These regulations are not a step back," he said. "They’re a step forward for civil society.”
Maite Rodriguez was laid to rest on May 31. Her loving obituary described her as a girl with a "caring heart" and an honor student who loved learning about animals and the ocean. Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, the college Maite dreamed of attending to become a marine biologist, is now offering a scholarship in her name.
"Maite was a sweet girl and those who know and loved her were blessed with her kind, ambitious, friendly and sweet soul."