After 49 lives were taken and countless others were injured (physically and mentally), we moved onto other topics – including the trauma of the 2016 election, more mass murders and terrorist attacks, and general nonsense that we all could have lived without.
With tragedies comes hope, which was seen as 49 angels watched over Pulse early this morning (pictured above):
As family and friends of Pulse shooting victims and survivors of that deadly attack gathered to remember the 49 lives lost, they were not alone. A group of 49 people dressed as angels formed a protective circle around that private service, just as they had in the wake of the massacre at the Orlando LGBTQ night club.
It was the first in a series of services marking the one year anniversary of the deadliest terror attack on U.S. soil since the attacks of 9/11. On June 12, 2016, Omar Mateen entered the club and began shooting patrons of Pulse’s Latin Night at 2:02 am. He later pledged allegiance to ISIS, though some have questioned whether he was motivated by Islamic extremism.
Survivor Ramses Tinoco told the Orlando Sentinel that the private service, which began at 1:45 am, was a healing experience.
“It’s totally different now. It’s like all the terrifying and awful memories I had have been replaced with tonight, with this unity and all this love,” Tinoco said. “We’re all still grieving but this gave me some closure. I could smile and remember the 49.”
On a stage awash in rainbow lights, a string quartet played as 49 purple hearts bearing the victims names shone one wall of the club.
Outside the mural-adorned wall, members of the public gathered to pay their respects and listen to the service.
Meanwhile, the Orlando Sentinel has posted the memories of victims, as told by family and friends. One of the mothers, Christine Leinonen, speaks about receiving her son’s personal items after the tragedy, which included a shirt and pair of jeans riddled with bullet holes.
How horrible. Here’s the video:
In other coverage, Buzzfeed published a “Dear Orlando” photo series today which features survivors, family members, and first responders giving their own account of what happened, and how their lives have changed in the wake of that night.
Take a look here.
To all the victims’ surviving families and friends, we are with you, Orlando.