Monday was the anniversary of the Pulse Massacre. In a great show of unity, the city came together to remember the 49 who were lost.
There was a ceremony on Monday morning in front of the Orange County Administration Center in downtown Orlando. The ceremony now marks the first day of Orlando United Day, a beautiful way to commemorate the victims. During the ceremony, a segment of the Sea-to-Sea Rainbow Flag, sewn by Gilbert Baker, was unfurled outside of the building.
“I can tell you candidly 10 years ago we would never be able to fly this flag or we would not be able to do it without a flood of outrage,” Orange County mayor Teresa Jacobs said.
Florida Sen. Bill Nelson said at the ceremony “that while terrorists aim to damage American society, the attack last year, which ISIS claimed credit for, only served to make it stronger.” He added, “Isn’t it interesting that it had the opposite effect?,” he said at the vigil. “It brought us together in unity and love.”
Rep. Val Demings, a Democrat representing the Orlando area noted, “We will always be Orlando Strong. Hate is not welcome and will never be.”
Florida and Orlando continued the celebration into the afternoon and evening. The American flags in Florida were flown half-staff across the state. Forty-nine church bells rang throughout Orlando in honor of the victims at noon.
There was a mid-day vigil at Pulse with a performance by the Orlando Gay Chorus. Hundreds of people left flowers, cards, signs, and more for the victims there. An evening service was held in downtown Orlando at Lake Eola. There was also a late-night service at the club.
A private ceremony was also held for the family of the victims, local officials, and club employees. It was closed to the public.
“I realize that gathering here in this place, at this hour, is beyond difficult,” Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said during the service. “But I also know that the strength you’ve shown over the past year will carry you through today and in the future.”
And it’s true. The city (and our country) is carrying on and moving into the future together.
Cover photo via @Reuters on Instagram