One-year ago today, our community was targeted in the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history. Forty-nine people lost their lives that day at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, and countless others continue to feel the pain of the horrible tragedy. In honor of the victims and their families, Victory Institute’s social media will remain silent today, allowing us and others to reflect and remember.
Our community is no stranger to tragedy. And while today we remember and mourn, as always we persevere through action and optimism.
The city of Orlando has dedicated today “Orlando United Day — A Day of Love and Kindness,” and Florida named today Pulse Remembrance Day statewide. The city is holding a remembrance at Pulse this morning in addition to a candlelight vigil at 10 p.m. this evening, which will feature music, dance and prayer.
Just ahead of the anniversary, the University of Central Florida unveiled a mural of two of the victims, one a UCF graduate and another a student at the time of his death. UCF also hosted an event for people to create art as a way to process the anniversary.
A nonprofit organization started by one of the UCF victims’ mothers and named for her son launched on Sunday. The Dru Project honors Drew Leinonen, and tries to restore the voice that was “stolen from him” by the shooting. The group provides support for LGBTQ-straight student alliance groups.
State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, who lost friends in the Pulse shooting, encouraged the LGBTQ community in Orlando to “inspire a generation” through love and forgiveness: