With the third anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting upon us, lawmakers are pushing for the site to be designated a national memorial.
“This is the site of the largest act of violence against the LGBTQ community, and it is also the deadliest terrorist attack since 9/11. I believe this community, in the aftermath of that tragedy, demonstrated to our country and to the world how to come together against hate,” U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy said. “I think a National Memorial at this site would be important to keep in people’s minds the tragedy and the importance of working hard to prevent future tragedies such as this.”
Murphy and fellow Rep. Darren Soto laid out their plans during a ceremony in front of a temporary memorial honoring the 49 victims who died.
“This is an important step to preserve an LGBT historic landmark at a time when many of these sites are being destroyed,” Soto said. “The memorial will serve as a reminder of the remarkable way our community came together to heal and overcome hate.”
The lawmakers were joined by Pulse owner Barbara Poma and onePULSE Foundation Chair Earl Crittenden to announce the bill, House Resolution 3094.
“It really gives such dignity and respect to what happened here and ensures what I’ve always wanted: that it will never be forgotten long after we’re not here to tell the story anymore, and that our government recognizes what happened here,” Poma said.
Kate Maini, who worked at Pulse from the day it opened to the day it closed, said the designation of the memorial would mean a lot to her.
“The memorial will be a place to heal, it’ll be a place to cry when you need to cry and it will be a reminder that every moment here matters. It will be a place to go to remember the 13 years of laughing, dancing love and support,” she said.
OnePULSE, in collaboration with Dovetail Design Strategists, is holding a competition to find the right team to design the memorial and museum.
The foundation, which has already raised $14 million for the project, has narrowed its list down to six finalists after Stage I, which was a request for qualifications from designers all around the world.
Stage II is the actual competition where the firms submit designs that will be displayed at the Orange County Regional History Center and online for a public comment period. The final selection will be made by a onePULSE jury.
OnePULSE laid out its vision for the project. One the website, the foundation wrote the National Pulse Memorial will focus on honoring “the 49 lives that were taken, their families, the 68 injured victims, all the affected survivors, and the first responders and healthcare professionals,” while the Pulse Museum “will educate, enlighten, inspire reflection and rumination, and start conversations that will change mindsets.”
The expectation is that permanent memorial and museum will be completed by 2022.
In the meantime, survivors, relatives of the victims, first responders, local leaders and residents will continue to return to the site of the shooting to honor those killed.
“Many of the friends and family are here reporting to the loved ones we’ve lost and for the survivors too, many of them are still going through surgery, unfortunately,” Pulse survivor Orlando Torres said. “We have love and I’m sure if the whole world was close by they’d be here too.”
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