June 12, 2016, sent shock waves through the world as news broke that 49 innocent people were killed and 53 others injured at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, FL. It immediately became the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. The owners of Pulse established the Non-Profit, OnePulse. “Our mission is to provide financial assistance to the victims affected by the attack at Pulse Nightclub. Through the end of 2016, we will contribute 90% of our funds raised to the National Compassion Fund, with the remainder contributing to the creation of a permanent memorial at the existing site of Pulse Nightclub, which will ultimately provide a sanctuary of hope dedicated to the lives affected and taken by the tragedy in Orlando, FL. on 06/12/2016.” (OnePulse Foundation)
Mayor of Orlando, Buddy Dyer, made a bold move by responding to the outcry for a memorialized space and officially announced on Monday, November 7, 2016, that the city and the owners of the Pulse club reached a deal to purchase the property.
Not a day goes by that someone whether they’re from the area, the states, or around the world, doesn’t come to visit this site and lay down mementos, leave their signature behind, or offer up some prayer. Due to the overwhelming mass of flowers, stuffed animals, and other memorial trinkets a barrier has been set in the street in front of the club to prevent traffic incidents as the club itself remains fenced off. That is, until this past Sunday, November 6, 2016, when OnePulse Foundation opened the gates to allow the community, friends, family, and survivors onto the site for the first time since it all happened.
The Mayor stated that no explicit plans have been decided yet other than reaching the deal to purchase the property and make it part of the city’s holdings. Rather than jumping into something rash Dyer is asking his community to provide their own insight and suggestions as he intends to be not just sensitive, but to provide the community with the best community-based memorial they can. Some ideas include leaving the street-side sign. While I may not be from Orlando, I am part of the LGBT community and feel that the sign has become so ingrained with this disaster that it should be preserved. Whether it remains prominently displayed or not should be considered but it should remain as part of the memorial in some capacity. Other ideas include keeping part of the original structure intact and then building the remaining memorial part around it in some manner.
It’s a beautiful sentiment from the Mayor and the people of Orlando and we thank you for it.