This Saturday marks the fifth anniversary of the Pulse nightclub mass shooting in Orlando, Florida. Earlier this week, the U.S. Senate passed a bill to nationally recognize a memorial for those victims. The bill, S.1605, will designate the site of the former nightclub the Pulse National Memorial.
“This memorial will serve as a national symbol of hope, love, and unity,” Representative Linda Sanchez, one of the bill’s authors, wrote on Twitter. The bill’s other authors are Representatives Darren Soto and Val Demmings.
A Horrific Shooting
Pulse, a nightclub founded in 2004, was a home to Orlando’s LGBTQ+ community.
On June 12, 2016, a single gunman killed 49 people and wounded 53 others in a mass shooting at Pulse. The attack — the second deadliest single gunman mass shooting in the U.S. — is the deadliest incident of violence against LGBTQ+ people in the U.S. It also is the second deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil since the September 11 attacks of 2001.
Remembering The Victims
The House version of the bill passed in May. U.S. Senator Rick Scott, who was Florida’s governor at the time of the shooting, sponsored the Senate legislation. The bill was passed on a voice vote.
The shooting was “an unspeakable tragedy,” Scott said from the floor, a United Press International story reports.
Scott also called the shooting “an evil act of terrorism designed to divide us as a nation and strike fear into our hearts and minds.” He went on to say, “But instead, we came together and supported each other through heartbreak and darkness, to preserve and rebuild.”
Site Of The Memorial
The bill now needs President Joe Biden to sign it into law. While it is unclear at this point when Biden may sign the bill, it is likely he will do so.
Biden, who was Vice President at the time of the shooting, traveled to Orlando to visit the site and victims’ families as well as first responders immediately after the attack. While there, Biden called the attack “an act of pure hate and unspeakable terror,” a Newsweek article reports.
Although the National Pulse Memorial would be designated as a national site, it would not be part of the National Park System, according to the legislation. What’s more, federal funds would not be used in any way with the memorial.
Instead, Orange County Florida Commissioners have already approved $10 million in funding to help the non-profit onePULSE Foundation purchase land around the former nightclub to construct a memorial and museum, the United Press International story reports.
A Solemn Remembrance
June 12 is the fifth anniversary of the mass shooting. If you’re looking for a way to mark the event, here are two suggestions from Orlando Weekly.
First, you can “solemnly ring a bell or similar instrument 49 times beginning at noon, both in recognition of the 49 lives lost at Pulse and in commitment to advancing full inclusion for the LGBTQ+ community. You can also follow on social media using the hashtag #49Bells.”
Secondly, the OnePulse Foundation holds an annual remembrance ceremony at the site of the Pulse nightclub, “bringing together the families of those whose lives were tragically taken, providing them a space to remember their loved ones in peace, and honoring all who survived, including the brave first responders and the trauma teams who saved so many,” Orlando Weekly explains. The ceremony at the Pulse Interim Memorial is by invitation only, but you can watch a livestream of the event at 6 p.m. Saturday here.
For more on Orlando, see all our Orlando content here, and get inspired with our expertly curated LGBTQ travel content here.