ORLANDO, Fla. - The Orlando community is joining together to remember the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting on its four-year commemoration.
In the early morning hours of June 12, 2016, the Orlando community suffered a horrible tragedy, as gunman Omar Mateen opened fire inside the gay nightclub, killing 49 people and wounding another 53.
While devastated and mourning, Orlando pulled together and stood united in the face of adversity. Citizens joined first responders and officials in aiding the surviving victims. Dozens were saved thanks to the quick actions of those first responders and medical professionals.
Just hours after the shooting, vigils and memorials arose in every corner of the city, as people paid their respects. One of the most remarkable moments was the Lake Eola vigil, which almost 50,000 people attended. It did not take long for the rest of the world to follow, as more memorials and vigils popped up around the globe. Even hashtags like #LoveWins and #OrlandoStrong trended internationally.
On the one-year anniversary of the shooting, Orlando held "Orlando United Day." This citywide event gave people an opportunity to join with others in acts of love and kindness, further continuing the unity that followed the tragedy. A whole day of events throughout the city ended with a “Remembering Our Angels” commemoration at Lake Eola.
The community gathers to remember the anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub shooting on what has become "Orlando United Day." This image is from the June 12, 2017 remembrance ceremony.
Onward to the spring of 2018, Noor Salman, Matteen's widow, faced a jury after being accused of aiding and abetting her husband. However, she was acquitted of the charges after an emotional and intense three-week trial.
Then in May of 2018, an interim memorial for the 49 victims of shooting opened to the public at the site of the Pulse Nightclub. The club’s sign was improved and a new fence was placed around the nightclub’s perimeter with images from Pulse and tributes to the victims and survivors. This memorial provides a place for visitors to pay their respects and leave messages until the permanent Pulse memorial is completed.
The permanent Pulse memorial is expected to open in 2022. The design for the memorial was chosen in October 2019 and features a reflecting pool encircling the Pulse building. Forty-nine colors line the basin and shine toward a peaceful garden with 49 trees. There will also be an Orlando Health Survivors wall that will trace the three-block journey many victims and first responders took the night of the tragedy.
On this anniversary of a tragic event that forever changed our city, our hearts still mourn the loss of the 49 victims lost. However, Orlando still stands united. The city works continuously to honor and remember all the lives lost, the families affected, and the hearts that are broken.
Governor Ron DeSantis has ordered flags to fly at half-staff on Friday, June 12th, "as a mark of respect for the victims."
The OnePulse Foundation is holding its Annual Remembrance Ceremony online this year to minimize the risk of contracting coronavirus. Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Orange County Mayor Jerry L. Demings, onePULSE Foundation Board Chair Earl Crittenden, and onePULSE CEO Barbara Poma will give remarks. An online tour of the interim Pulse memorial is also available on the OnePulse Foundation website.
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