It's hard to believe that one year has already passed since the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida. When news reports first confirmed the deaths of 49 people following what became the deadliest mass shooting in the nation's recent history, it felt shocking and beyond heartbreaking. But what was worse was knowing that the shooting targeted the city's LGBTQ and Latinx community, many of whom had previously considered Pulse to be a safe haven from hatred and homophobia. In Orlando, Monday will be a day for remembering those lost in the attack, but tweets about the Pulse nightclub shooting show that people the world over are also commemorating the sad anniversary, and are sending love to the victims and showing their support.
Around 2 a.m. on Monday morning — roughly the same time at which a lone gunman opened fire at the venue exactly one year earlier — survivors and the family and friends of the victims gathered at Pulse in a closed memorial service to mark the anniversary of the deadly shooting, according to The Orlando Sentinel. The memorial was one of many events organized to honor the victims in the lead-up to the one-year anniversary, and two more have been scheduled to take place at Pulse throughout the day. According to TIME, a second service will take place at the nightclub at noon on Monday, along with a "final, music-filled late-night service" at the venue in the evening for anyone wanting to show solidarity for those who lost loved ones in the attack. Another large event will take place in downtown Orlando Monday night to allow the city to come together to remember the victims.
Throughout the entire state of Florida Monday, flags will also be flying at half-mast to honor the Pulse victims, according to TIME, and a rainbow flag will fly at the Orange County government buildings in support of the LGBTQ community. According to The Palm Beach Post, Florida Gov. Rick Scott has declared June 12 to be Pulse Remembrance Day in the state of Florida, and called on all Floridians to observe a moment of silence on Monday morning for the victims. In a statement released Friday, Scott said the 2016 shooting was "an attack on Orlando, our state, the Hispanic community and on the LGBTQ community," but praised the "incredible resolve" shown in the aftermath by those who "came together to restore hope and peace during Orlando’s darkest time of need."
That message is one that many have echoed on social media Monday, as people the world took the opportunity to reflect back on the tragic act of senseless violence. Countless tweets expressed the shock and heartbreak that continues to exist a year on from the attack:
Others made a point to honor the names and faces of the specific victims, whose lives were so abruptly cut short as a result of one man's heartless actions:
For many, the anniversary was also an important reminder that LBGTQ rights need to remain a priority:
Many tweets also highlighted the ways in which both the local community and cities around the world were coming together to honor the anniversary of the shooting:
And a number of particularly poignant tweets showed photos and videos of individuals dressed as angels to honor and protect those who attended the first Pulse memorial service early Monday night:
It's no surprise that, one year later, the pain and heartbreak that surrounded the Pulse shooting still remains as significant as ever. It's also likely that for those who lost loved ones, as well as for anyone in the Orlando LGBTQ community in general, the pain will always remain a reality. But the social media reaction to the anniversary of the shooting is an important reminder that, while the violence occurred in Orlando, the impact was in many ways felt around the world. And that while the gunman chose to target the young LGBTQ Latinx community, the outrage is continued to be felt by people from all walks of life, who stand with them as allies.
Remembering the Pulse shooting one year later isn't easy, and it's hard to even fathom that something like that could have happened. But at the very least, the heartbreaking anniversary serves as an important reminder that the fight for equal rights, for safety, and for love and acceptance for all people is absolutely essential. On this day, and everyday.