Nearly one year ago, in the early morning hours of June 12, Orlando and the entire nation were shaken by the deadliest incident of violence against the LGBT community in U.S. history — and the deadliest terrorist attack in the U.S. since 9/11.
“Surreal” can’t begin to describe the feeling arriving to work at Sachs Media Group’s Orlando office the next morning. At the time, we were located downtown just minutes from Pulse nightclub, where the attack took place. Like me, many Orlando locals were feeling loss, anger, hurt, confusion, and heartache. What had happened to our beautiful city?
As our community was thrust into the national and global spotlight, we knew we had to be a strong, shining light for the world to see. The following days, weeks, and months brought about the greatest outpouring of love, kindness, and acceptance this city has ever witnessed.
As we approach this first anniversary, those same emotions arise. In honor of the 49 beautiful souls lost in the Pulse terror attack, Orange County has declared June 12 “Orlando United Day – A Day of Love and Kindness.” We are all encouraged to join with others in acts of love and kindness to further grow the unity of the city – and the nation – that followed the tragedy.
Whether you’re an Orlandoan or call somewhere else home, you may be seeking ways to honor and memorialize those who were so profoundly affected by the horror of that day. If you don’t know where to start or how to participate, here are some ways you can get involved, from both near and far.
Ways to commemorate Orlando United Day locally:
- Visit Orlando City Hall to view “49 Portraits,” a collection of images created to honor the Pulse nightclub victims and to be given as gifts to their families by a group of 49 artists across the country. The portraits are on display through June 14.
- Follow the University of Central Florida on Snapchat for “UCF Remembers: A Snapchat Story,” which honors the Pulse 49 and all those involved in the tragedy. Short videos from Orlando locals and UCF students will include discussions on the following questions and thought starters:
- Because of Pulse I am ____________.
- When you reflect on what happened one year ago, what do you remember?
- What do you want the LGBT community, or the American community at large, to remember?
- How has Pulse changed you?
- Pulse has made our community ______________.
- Attend “Reflections and Remembrance” at Pulse nightclub on June 12 to honor all those affected by the tragedy. A special ceremony with speakers, prayer, a reading of the 49 names, wreath display, and music will take place from 11a.m. to 1p.m.
Ways to commemorate Orlando United Day from afar:
- Celebrate the lives of the Pulse 49 by reading each of their life stories in “Remembering the Orlando 49,” a feature series by Orlando Weekly.
- Make a contribution to the onePulse Foundation, a nonprofit that seeks to create a sanctuary of hope through community grants, construction and maintenance of a Pulse memorial, and educational scholarships.
Photo courtesy of NPR.org