Can you feel the pain, the grief, the loss? One year ago today, the news of yet another mass shooting started crawling across TV screens, becoming the subject of Tweets, 24/7 news shows interrupting regular programming to cover the shooting death of 49 Americans. These Americans were members of the GLBTQ community gathered at The Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida for an evening of dancing and a good time. The shooter, a young security guard with hate in his heart mowed down more people than any other mass shooting in our country and was considered to be a terrorist attack.
From the article above:
The attack is the deadliest mass shooting by a single shooter in United States history; the deadliest incident of violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in the history of the United States—surpassing the 1973 UpStairs Lounge arson attack—and the deadliest terrorist attack in the United States since the September 11 attacks in 2001.
49 died and 53 were left injured.
The names of the dead:
- Stanley Almodovar III, age 23
- Amanda Alvear, 25
- Oscar A. Aracena-Montero, 26
- Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33
- Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21
- Martin Benitez Torres, 33
- Antonio D. Brown, 30
- Darryl R. Burt II, 29
- Jonathan A. Camuy Vega, 24
- Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28
- Simon A. Carrillo Fernandez, 31
- Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25
- Luis D. Conde, 39
- Cory J. Connell, 21
- Tevin E. Crosby, 25
- Franky J. Dejesus Velazquez, 50
- Deonka D. Drayton, 32
- Mercedez M. Flores, 26
- Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22
- Juan R. Guerrero, 22
- Paul T. Henry, 41
- Frank Hernandez, 27
- Miguel A. Honorato, 30
- Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40
- Jason B. Josaphat, 19
- Eddie J. Justice, 30
- Anthony L. Laureano Disla, 25
- Christopher A. Leinonen, 32
- Brenda L. Marquez McCool, 49
- Jean C. Mendez Perez, 35
- Akyra Monet Murray, 18
- Kimberly Morris, 37
- Jean C. Nieves Rodriguez, 27
- Luis O. Ocasio-Capo, 20
- Geraldo A. Ortiz-Jimenez, 25
- Eric I. Ortiz-Rivera, 36
- Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32
- Enrique L. Rios Jr., 25
- Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37
- Yilmary Rodriguez Solivan, 24
- Christopher J. Sanfeliz, 24
- Xavier E. Serrano Rosado, 35
- Gilberto R. Silva Menendez, 25
- Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34
- Shane E. Tomlinson, 33
- Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25
- Luis S. Vielma, 22
- Luis D. Wilson-Leon, 37
- Jerald A. Wright, 31
Their pulses are no longer felt. Their voices are no longer heard. Their places at family dinners and events are no longer there and their faces have become memories. The devastation was wide-spread affecting the entire city of Orlando and the country.
But we move on and tend to forget about the victims and the devastation because these shootings keep happening all over our wonderful country. We hear the news. We mourn for a while with the families of the victims. We shake our heads in disbelief. And then collectively we let our leaders get away with doing nothing. A young man with two semi-automatic weapons he shouldn’t have had, with hate inside of him, thinking he can take revenge on a group of Americans and then claiming it was revenge for bombing his country.
And the guns make it so so easy to do. There are no excuses. The shooter was a complicated, socially awkward, confused, angry man who was clearly someone who should not have been allowed to get his hands on guns:
From October 2006 until April 2007,
Mateentrained to be a prison guard for the Florida Department of Corrections. As a probationary employee, he received an “administrative termination (not involving misconduct)” upon a warden’s recommendation after Mateenjoked about bringing a gun to school. Mateenunsuccessfully pursued a career in law enforcement, failing to become a Florida state trooper in 2011 and to gain admission to a police academy in 2015.According to a police academy classmate, Mateenthreatened to shoot his classmates at a cookout in 2007 “after his hamburger touched pork” in violation of Islamic dietary laws.
Since 2007, he had been a security guard for G4S Secure Solutions. The company said two screenings—one conducted upon hiring and the other in 2013—had raised no red flags.
Mateenheld an active statewide firearms license and an active security officer license, had passed a psychological test, and had no criminal record.
(crossed out letters mine)
I dedicate this post to those whose lives were taken so suddenly and violently and to the survivors who will never forget or be the same. Please read this article about the after effects one year later.:
“I might still be in shock,” Leinonen said. “I know I’m often in denial. It’s as if you know rationally that this massacre happened, but the brain cannot comprehend it, or I should say the heart. The heart and soul cannot comprehend that level of evil.” (…)
“Even though I’m a victim, or a survivor – whatever the case may be – I still try to live as normal, be as normal as possible. People get depressed. Of course, I’m going to get depressed, I’m going to have my moments. I’ve got scars and stuff up and down my body, and stuff now that I continue to look at … a lot of stuff. I’m going to get depressed here and there, you know what I’m saying?”
“At the end of the day, I’ve got to move on, I’ve got to push forward, because nobody else can do it for me. I can’t just give up.”
We are not going to give up. And yes, we do move on. But what does that mean? For this individual it means trying to get his life back together but he will never forget. For the survivors it means eventually not crying regularly and being able to live on with the memories. For the country though, does it mean forgetting and moving on as if these mass shootings don’t happen on a regular basis? Or does it mean we will stand up and do something about it?
On this day an article from The Trace connects us to a man who cares and just can’t get over the deadly massacre. So many people are affected by one shooting. Here is how one man, a cemetery caretaker, is dealing with what happened one year ago today:
Price is 49 years old, a sturdy man with a graying goatee and consoling blue eyes. Among his 20-some tattoos is a quotation from Ernest Hemingway inked on the back of his right calf. “The world breaks everyone,” it reads. “And afterward, many are stronger at the broken places.” He has been Greenwood’s sexton for 15 years, and has seen death come in many ways. But the plot in the northwest corner is different. When he recalls the night of the attack — June 12, 2016, the worst mass shooting in modern American history — he looks dumbfounded and says, “I mean, these were kids who just wanted to dance.”
They were just kids who wanted to dance and now they are dead. Price cares about the graves of those lost and cares about those who come to “visit” the victims and the memories that are stored at the gravesites. And though some of the victims were not considered to be kids by their stated ages, they were all someone’s kids who will never grow old and never live out their dreams.
Do we all care enough to do something about the daily carnage? We don’t need to be dumbfounded. We do need to be brave and courageous against a corporate gun lobby that prevents us from dealing with a serious public health and safety epidemic.
We can prevent and reduce these kinds of shootings and the shootings that take the lives of 90 Americans every day. With a change in the conversation, a culture of guns that leads to arming those who should not have guns, a change to our gun laws and speaking out loudly and clearly to our elected leaders, we can save lives.
In the name of common sense the fight for what we know is right continues and will continue. If we can’t change the conversation about making it easier rather than harder for just about anyone to get a gun after the deadly Pulse nightclub massacre , what will it take?
After I posted, I was made aware of this video from CAP Action Guns. Please watch as survivors share their stories: