This morning’s announcement of the Pulse memorial was short on information, full of emotion

By : Billy Manes
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This morning, May 4, 2017, a pall fell over the inside of the tribute gates of the oft-visited Pulse Orlando nightclub, where thousands have paid their respects to the 49 killed on June 12, 2016. The event was announced nearly a week before, but the details of what was going on were amorphous at best. The Pulse site would become a permanent memorial, the original April 25 press release read, leaving out any finite details.

“Pulse has always been a part of me, but after this tragedy which took 49 lives, it became a part of this community and the world,’’ Poma explained in the press release. “When this event happened, I had no clue how expansive the love for Pulse was. It’s important that we as a community be mindful and take great care to preserve, honor and help heal.”

And on May 4, people may have been looking for answers as to what would happen to the site, the same one people continue to visit daily nearly a year after the tragedy. That wasn’t necessarily what they – or the dozens of media outlets present – got. There were several speeches about how important it was to preserve the memories of the club and the victims. Both Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs were in attendance, along with several commissioners. Disney’s openly gay George A. Kalogridis was there. Names like Lady Gaga, Lance Bass and Melissa Etheridge were mentioned, though not present, and for the most part, it seemed that this was just the beginning of a ball rolling to memorialize a space that means so much to so many. Likewise, survivors and former staff lined the rows of folding chairs in the rarely open space in front of the club, as the Orlando Angels and a choral tribute were symbolically moving in their appearances. Pulse owner Barbara Poma spoke in hushed tones to a nightmare that has haunted her since June, echoing the sentiment that hate will not win. Poma reiterated that she started Pulse after her losing her brother to HIV/AIDS, and that she wanted this to be a project firmly engaging the community. “It could be years,” she said to the press pool.

The main specifics of the project remain a mystery. Asked about funds raised by various national events and local fundraisers, a board member was vague at best. Poma herself said everything was still in the works, indicating that she wanted everyone to know that progress was being made.

“Would it be a garden or a museum?” we asked city commissioner Patty Sheehan after the moving presentation.

“We don’t know, and I think that’s a good thing,” she said.

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