The Good Fight: Looking Beyond the Memorials

This post originally appeared in Watermark Online

At the stroke of noon on June 12, churches from Ecuador to Michigan will ring their bells 49 times in memory of the lives lost at Pulse Nightclub one year ago. This moment will honor the remarkable people taken that night – and mourn the lives that were tragically cut short.

Luis S. Vielma, 22, worked at Universal Orlando’s Harry Potter ride and was set to start Emergency Medical Technician training just weeks after the massacre.

Brenda McCool, 49, beat cancer twice before losing her life as she danced with her son.

Akyra Murphy, 18, a standout student athlete from West Catholic Preparatory High School, had just graduated high school the week before and planned to attend Mercyhurst College on a basketball scholarship.

Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22, had recently begun attending the University of Central Florida and was killed alongside his boyfriend, Christopher Leinonen, 32. The couple had planned to marry.

And there were 44 others — each with a promising but unfulfilled story, and countless people who loved them left behind.

For those of you who were close to the victims, it must feel like just yesterday that you were talking and laughing with the friends, neighbors and family members who were taken that night. And undoubtedly, you will see numerous ceremonies and events marking this anniversary. There will be news reports and memorials that will reopen the psychological wounds you have continued to endure long after the violence of that evening subsided.

But much like a year ago, the world’s attention will soon dissipate, as it always does once the bright lights of media and mayhem dim. And while others more removed from this horrific act will have the luxury of mourning and moving on with their lives, I know that for many of you, this pain will never go away.

That’s why on behalf of the Human Rights Campaign, my message to this community is that we are here for you each and every day – not just on this day. We will never forget them and we will never forget you. And we will keep fighting every single day to make sure nothing like this ever happens again.

The attack at Pulse demonstrated the deadly cost of hate. This was a massacre of LGBTQ people, most of them Latinx, who would likely be alive today if not for the hatred and bigotry that too many still hold toward our community.

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