Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Love Trumps Hate

On June 12, 2019 families of the fallen, survivors and members of the community gathered at Pulse to remember the 49 lives lost in a horrific act of violence. It was a chance to honor loved ones, to show support for the survivors and to honor first responders. It was 195 days since Orlando as a city changed.Orlando as a community continues to rise.

The sun was setting as Pam Schwartz and I arrived at the memorial ceremony. She branched off to make sure families were seated and I began to document the evening with a sketch. I had my own art stool and I sat in among the families leaning back against a tree. Several of the Angel Action Wings were in the crowd.

Several rows ahead of me I could see the father of Cory James Connell with his baseball cap and number 7 jersey. Cory was shot and killed on June 12, 2016 at Pulse. Later that year the family was blessed with the birth of a baby boy who they decided to name Cory as well. I sketched young Cory several times when the family spoke about their journey after the loss of their son. Now young Cory was a young three year old with wild hair and plenty of attitude.

During one of the songs a mother cried inconsolably to my right. Around me people turned and pointed their cameras towards the horizon. A large rainbow had formed as if an sign of the love and acceptance being honored. Barbara Poma offered a few remarks as did Buddy Dyer and Jerry Demmings. A sign language interpreter signed every comment of love and acceptance.  Then the names of the 49 were read. Unfortunately a few names were mispronounced.

Heather Martin a survivor of the Columbine shooting spoke candidly of her long road to recovery following that shooting. She talked about how loud sounds like fireworks could act as triggers. As she was talking an ambulance rushed by with it's siren blaring which is another sound that triggers memories of that night at Pulse. "This unfortunate bond of tragedy has born incredible friendships, friendships that have kept me going when I struggle." she said. Sharing her battle, her struggle helps overshadow the dark times with hope and love.

Plans are in the works for a permanent memorial and museum on the Pulse Nightclub site. Architecture firms from all over the world will be submitting proposals for what should be on this site. Opinions about what should be on the site are varied.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at analogartistdigitalworld@gmail.com

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